A man who travelled to Dundee’s bus station in the hope of having sex with a child, only to be stung by vigilantes, has been spared a prison sentence.
William Meek thought he had been exchanging social media messages with a girl called Paige in July 2019.
Using Tagged and WhatsApp, the 48-year-old had sent numerous messages to the person, who he thought was a 13-year-old, including asking if she wanted to “make love”.
However, Meek was unaware he was actually speaking to a man from Groom Resisters Scotland, a group which aims to weed out adults trying to meet children for sexual activity.
A sweat-soaked Meek had to be rushed to Ninewells Hospital after he claimed to be having heart palpitations while being confronted by the group. The incident was live-streamed and chat logs were handed over to the police.
Accused wanted a ‘full-on relationship’
Meek, of Polepark Road, Dundee, was placed on a community payback order after previously pleading guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court to trying to meet a child for sexual activity and communicating indecently.
Meek, who has learning difficulties, also admitted breaching his bail conditions by having multiple electronic devices capable of accessing the internet.
Prosecutor Gavin Burton said Meek initially sent a message to the child’s fake profile on Tagged asking if she would like to meet.
He later encouraged the girl to lie to her mother about staying with a friend so that they could have a “kiss and cuddle”.
Mr Burton previously told the court: “The accused said that he wanted a full-on relationship.
“The accused said that a full-on relationship is when you have sex and make a baby together.
“The accused sent a series of messages saying that she would not get in trouble and would be safe with him.
“He said that her mother would not know.”
Members of Groom Resisters Scotland caught up with Meek at around 8pm on July 14 where he initially denied arranging to meet a child, but later admitted that he was, adding that it was “wrong.”
Meek was later taken to hospital following his heart complaints and was arrested after being discharged at 11.35pm.
After initially being released on bail, two separate police visits found Meek was in possession of devices when he was not supposed to be. He tried to hide a phone in an armchair after one visit.
Meek pled guilty on indictment to attempting to communicate indecently with a child he believed was called Paige through social media messaging between July 7 and 14 2019.
On July 14 2019, Meek travelled to Seagate bus station with the intention of meeting a child and engaging in unlawful sexual activity.
He also admitted possessing the devices at addresses at his home and at an address on Orchardgate, Cupar, in November 2019 and July 2020 respectively.
Solicitor Douglas Thomson said: “Since his release from a period on remand he has kept himself free from any similar offending. He’s been very isolated in the community and he needs structure in his life.”
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael imposed a three-year order on Meek comprising of supervision, mental health treatment and a number of restrictions on his internet usage.
He told Meek: “It’s very serious stuff. All of what you did was very bad. In these very unusual circumstances, I am going to go down the route of imposing a community payback order.”
Meek was also placed on the sex offenders register for three years.