June 2018

Inverness sex offender caught luring young girls to send indecent images of themselves


Transatlantic co-operation between police and Facebook led to a convicted sex offender being caught trying to lure young girls to send him indecent images of themselves.

But the offences were committed five years before Benjamin Mackay had been convicted of other sex offences, including possessing indecent images of children and sexually assaulting a drunk and asleep woman in a London flat.

As a result, shaven-headed Mackay, of Woodlands Close, Westhill, Inverness, was treated as a first offender at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday and a background report was called for.

Mackay, 25, who is serving a three-year sentence for the London offence, admitted four sex offences, involving four girls under the age of 16.

The former lifeguard at Inverness Leisure Centre, who had also been convicted of asking young girls at the swimming pool to send him naked pictures of themselves, will re-appear for sentence on July 23. He was placed on the sex offender’s register.

Fiscal Sharon Ralph told the court that a former girlfriend of Mackay had been interviewed by police investigating one of his previous offences. She told officers the names of some girls with whom he may have had Facebook involvement, the prosecutor went on.

Mrs Ralph added: “Thereafter an International Letter of Request made to Facebook resulted in a certified copy of evidence being sent to the police which allowed them to identify the four girls.”

Mackay admitted trying to extort more indecent images from one girl in 2013 by threatening to publish a naked photo of her already in his possession.

He also pleaded guilty to sending sexual communications to three other girls asking for naked photos of them.

Mrs Ralph said Mackay would either use his real name or a pseudonym “Danny Smith,” and lie about his age to make the requests.

All the girls refused to comply with his demands, despite him telling one that he loved her, she added.

Mrs Ralph then told Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood she would be seeking a Sex Offences Prevention Order on Mackay after she had more information from Police Scotland.

April 2016

Highland swimming pool lifeguard who asked under-age girls to send naked pictures has sentence deferred

A leisure pool lifeguard who downloaded indecent images of children after he had been caught asking two under-age girls to send naked pictures of themselves to him had sentence deferred for a year for good behaviour yesterday.

In February, Sheriff Margaret Neilson had called for a background report on 23-year-old Benjamin Mackay who pleaded guilty to having indecent images and videos on his computer on October 24, 2014.

She also asked for a progress report on a community payback order imposed in May last year for the earlier offence.

Mackay, of 5 Woodlands Close, Westhill, Inverness had been sentenced to 300 hours of unpaid work and a three year supervision order after admitting two offences of sending sexual messages to the girls and asking them for naked pictures of themselves in July, 2013.

But yesterday, defence lawyer Rory Gowans told Inverness Sheriff Court that “the robust order” was going well and the report on Mackay was “very positive.”

“My client is taking this very seriously and I would ask the court to defer sentence to allow this good work to continue.”

Mackay had already been placed on the Sex Offender’s Register.

May 2015

Lifeguard’s false identity to groom sisters aged 10 and 13

A LIFEGUARD at an aquadome groomed two under-age sisters on the internet in a bid to have them take naked pictures of themselves and send them to him.

Using a false Facebook identity, 22-year-old Benjamin Mackay, of Woodlands Close, Westhill, near Inverness, used the name Danny Smith to contact the ten- and 13-year-olds separately.

But he used his actual image on the social media site and the girls recognised him, Inverness Sheriff Court heard yesterday.

Mackay, who worked at the Inverness Leisure Centre where he met the two girls, admitted two offences of sending sexual messages to the girls and asking them for naked pictures of themselves.

Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart said: “When the girls pointed this out, he claimed that he was using a friend’s account as his own was not working, but due to the fact that the profile picture was his, the girls did not believe this explanation.

“Although he contacted them separately, it is clear that the girls were telling each other about the messages they received.”

One conversation with one of the girls included the request: “Fancy doing something for me but keep it a secret between you and me? Xx”

The girl refused, asking him if he knew how old she was? He said 13 and added: “Age is just a number.”

Mackay then asked for a picture of her in her underwear or just a part of her anatomy.

In a 76-minute conversation with the other girl, he made a similar request, saying: “You are good looking and your funny and an amazing person.”

The girl repeatedly refused, finally adding her reason: “Cause ur a paedo!”

Mr Urquhart said she then went to her father and said: “Dad, I need to show you this” and told him about the conversations. He took screenshots of the Facebook conversations which he was able to provide to the police who were called that night.

Mackay told police who interviewed him that he created the fake account so that he could keep it secret from his then girlfriend, adding that he regretted that it happened.

Defence agent Shahid Latif reserved his comments until sentencing.

Sentence was deferred until 9 June for a background report and he was placed on the sex offender’s register.