November 2016

Man who sent indecent Snapchat photos to teenage girls is spared jail

An offender who sent indecent images of himself to girls under 16 through the social media site Snapchat has been spared a jail sentence.

Instead, Robert Shewan Groat, 26, of South Road, Lerwick, has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work after he appeared in the Lerwick dock for sentence.

Groat was handed the hours by Sheriff Philip Mann as part of an 18-month community payback order.

He will remain on the sex offender’s register throughout the duration of the order.

Groat previously admitted sending the images to four girls.

He intentionally caused girls aged between 13 and 15 to look at a sexual image of himself naked or wearing only his underwear – and pictures of his genitalia.

The incident happened between 1st July and 16th August 2014.

Groat also admitted causing a 16-year-old girl to look at a sexual image of himself wearing underwear, and with himself exposed between 1st and 31st August 2014.

The offending started after one of the girls added Groat to the social media site, which allows people to post pictures, to communicate with him about a rowing team he was starting up.

The incidents happened in Bressay and elsewhere in the isles.

Sentence had been deferred for reports, and Groat was warned that the court would be considering all sentencing options.

But Sheriff Mann was today persuaded Groat could be handed a community-based disposal.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Groat had co-operated fully with the court, adding it was “clear from the start” the matter would be resolved.

He said contact was made with the families of the complainers at a very early stage, and apologies had been tendered.

Mr Allan said Groat had been assessed as being at a low risk of re-offending.

He said Groat was “immature for his years” and had suffered from a “very low mood” because of what was going on in his life.

“He’s really had to leave where he was living and try to find a new life. The stigma of his appearance in court for these offences is something he will have to work very hard to throw off.”

The agent said Groat had accepted his responsibility for what had happened, and had pleaded at a very early stage.

Sheriff Mann told Groat: “This was a very, very serious series of offending. It was quite unacceptable to subject these young girls to the photographs you sent to them via Snapchat. It’s all the more serious because these girls contacted you for entirely innocent purposes. Whether you were intoxicated or not, you took advantage of that, so it is a serious matter.”

However, the Sheriff said Groat was a first offender and, on that basis, could be sentenced without the imposition of a custodial sentence.