A “dangerous and predatory” Angus pervert has admitted abusing a young girl and posting indecent images of children online.
John Johnstone was snared following what Police Scotland described as a “hugely complex enquiry” centred on the 43-year-old who was said to have posed a danger to children worldwide.
Johnstone, from Arbroath pleaded guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court to a string of charges, including performing a sexual act in the presence of a child and taking and distributing indecent images of children online.
Police Scotland launched an investigation after receiving intelligence that Johnstone had uploaded an indecent image of a child onto the so-called dark web.
John Johnstone is a dangerous and predatory individual whose levels of hidden criminal activity over a number of years show he was not only a risk to children in Scotland, but worldwide.
DCI Richie Banks
The information triggered a complex operation involving specialist officers in detailed investigation and digital forensic examinations to gather intelligence and evidence of Johnstone’s criminal activity.
He was arrested and charged in July this year.
Intelligence sparked complex investigation
Detective Chief Inspector Richie Banks, of Police Scotland’s National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “John Johnstone is a dangerous and predatory individual whose levels of hidden criminal activity over a number of years show he was not only a risk to children in Scotland, but worldwide.
“His guilty plea today is testament to the investigative work undertaken by officers across Police Scotland and partner agencies.
Mr Banks added: “Online offenders may think they are anonymous, and they may not comprehend the terrible, devastating and lifelong impact their actions have on children.
“But there is no excuse for their actions.
“Online images of child abuse and exploitation are not virtual, they show the very real abuse of a real child.”
Accused previously appear in Forfar court in indecent images charge
He said Police Scotland’s current #GetHelpOrGetCaught campaign proactively targets those who are either already offending or at risk of offending online, and provides signposts to available support.
“Police Scotland is committed to the protection of children and to bringing all perpetrators of sexual abuse to justice,” said Mr Banks.
“We would urge anyone who wishes to report any child protection concerns or sexual crime to contact us on 101 so we can conduct a thorough investigation.”
Johnstone will be sentenced at a later date.
Online images of child abuse and exploitation are not virtual, they show the very real abuse of a real child.
Police Scotland’s National Child Abuse Investigation Unit
Last August, Johnstone was placed on the sex offenders’ register for three years but escaped prison after admitting having an indecent images offence.
He appeared at Forfar sheriff court where he admitted taking or permitting to be taken, or making indecent photos or pseudo photographs of children at his home in July 2017.
He was ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work under a three year community order.
Strict restrictions were also imposed at the time including a ban on unsupervised contact with under 18s, a restriction on the number of internet devices he could own and a condition he did not install encryption software or delete his browsing history.