A youth football coach who posed as a 12-year-old on social media to groom a youngster on the other side of the world was worried court restrictions could stop him from eating at McDonald’s.
Nicholas Henderson used Instagram to chat to a 10-year-old in Australia, asking him a series of sexual questions.
He was arrested after the frightened child alerted his mother. She reported the matter to police in her home town of Adelaide, but also contacted Henderson’s bosses at Scone Thistle FC in Perthshire, where he freelanced as an under-15s coach.
Henderson, 29, returned to Perth Sheriff Court on Monday, having previously admitted committing the offence on November 16 2016, “to obtain sexual gratification by communicating messages of a sexual nature with a child.”
Henderson was spared jail, but ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid community work.
He was also placed on a three year supervision order, which means he cannot freely access the internet or visit parks, playgrounds and other places where there were likely to be children present.
Solicitor Kevin Lancaster said Henderson was worried restrictions would mean he wouldn’t be able to visit the burger chain.
“He accepts the various requirements,” said Mr Lancaster. “There is some slight concern that these restrictions would cover, for example, going into McDonald’s.”
Sheriff Wood responded: “If your misgivings are correct then that would mean all restaurants, and I don’t think (these regulations) should be interpreted in that way.”
He told Henderson: “You are a relatively young man who has found himself in a bit of a mess.
“I do take into account that you seem genuinely remorseful and you are keen to put in the work to make changes.”
He said: “Although a custodial sentence is open to me, I am satisfied that this could be dealt with by way of a community-based disposal.”
The court heard Henderson was getting ready to leave his home in Brandywell Road, Abernethy, and move into Dundee.
Henderson asked the boy if he had a girlfriend and, if so, if he kissed her.
Prosecutor Carol Whyte said: “The boy thought this was weird as he hadn’t heard people talking like this when he was with his friends at a local skate park.
“But the accused persisted talking about girls and then used sexual language which made the boy scared and nervous.
“He later said it made him feel like butterflies were in his belly and so he decided to tell his mum.
“The accused had told the boy he was 12 years old and was using his uncle’s Instagram account.”
Mrs Whyte said the boy’s mother took screenshots of the chain of Instagram messages and then contacted Police Scotland about the matter. Scone Thistle were also notified of the offence.
“The boy had told his mum he was now scared to talk to new friends and suffered some nightmares which featured the accused coming to get him and tell him off,” she added.