December 2017

Former Dornoch foster carer sent sexual messages to users of an on-line children’s game site

A FORMER foster carer who sent explicit sexual messages to users of an online children’s game site has had his freedom restricted.

Francis (Frank) Ward (65), formerly of Bishopfield, Dornoch but now living in Wirral, Merseyside, has been banned from leaving home at night.

He has also been placed on the Sex Offender’s Register and warned that he must not have any contact in any form with children under the age of 17.

The pensioner, who created a persona for himself on kids’ social networking site Movie Star Planet, was extremely remorseful, according to his lawyer.

At Tain Sheriff Court yesterday, he was described as a first offender who had never been in trouble before.

His 41-year-old marriage remained intact and he had the “support” of his family although they did not condone his actions.

Well-known in the East Sutherland area, Ward, stood unsuccessfully on behalf of the Solidarity Party in the 2007 local authority elections.

An extensive investigation was undertaken after his online activity emerged in 2015 because of Ward’s previous role as a foster carer.

His defence agent Ian McLelland said: “Because of his former position and the nature of these charges, an extensive investigation was carried out but these offences were the only ones committed.”

Mr McLelland said Ward, who has health difficulties meaning he cannot carry out unpaid work, was eager to embark on a programme that helps sex offenders address their behaviour.

A previous court had been told that Birmingham based Movie Star Planet was aimed at children aged eight to 15 and was supposed to be a “safe and fun starter social networking platform”.

Players create their own movie star avatars and engage with others while playing games or chatting.

The site’s security operators became concerned in October 2015 when it was noticed that one of the users had a number of accounts linked to the one email address.

The operators checked the chat logs out and found that the user – Frank Ward – was not compliant with site rules and was attempting to engage in sexualised chat with others.

Ward was blocked from the site and police contacted. A search of his Bishopfield house was carried out in January 2016 and a laptop computer confiscated on which evidence was found.

Ward admitted two counts of sending communications of a sexual nature to a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old. The messages were sent on September 3 and October 15, 2015, from his Bishopfield address.

Sheriff Chris Dickson placed him on a community pay-back order with the requirement that he be under social work supervision for 18 months.

He was also placed on a restriction of liberty order confining him to his home from 8pm to 6am for 80 days.

October 2017

Former Dornoch man admits sending sex messages to children

A SOLIDARITY Party member who stood unsuccessfully in the 2007 local authority elections for a Sutherland ward, has admitted sending online sex messages to children.

Sixty five-year-old Francis (Frank) Ward, formerly of Dornoch and now living in Wirral, Merseyside, created a persona on a children’s online games site Movie Star Planet (MSP) and sent indecent messages to other underage users.

Police were contacted after the site’s security operators noticed several accounts linked to his email address and checked his logged chats.

Officers then swooped on Ward’s home and removed his computer.

Ward, who stood on behalf of the Solidarity Party for the East Sutherland and Edderton Ward in the 2007 Highland Council elections, appeared on indictment at Tain Sheriff Court on Monday to admit two counts of sending communications of a sexual nature to a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old.

The messages were sent on September 3 and October 15, 2015, from his former home at Bishopfield Road, Dornoch.

Sheriff Chris Dickson deferred sentence for the preparation of Criminal Justice social work reports and a restriction of liberty assessment. He placed Ward on the Sex Offender’s Register.

Monday’s court was told that Birmingham based Movie Star Planet was a social media site for children aged from eight to 15 and was supposed to be a “safe and fun starter social networking platform”.

Robert Weir, prosecuting said: “Each player on the site becomes a movie star with their own designated name. They create their own avatars and engage with each other while playing games or chatting.”

Site security operators became concerned in early October 2015 when it was noticed that one of the site users had various MSP accounts, several of which linked to the one email address: manboobs99@tiscali.co.uk.

Mr Weir said: “On checking the logged chats between this user and other users, the operators saw the user was not compliant and was attempting to engage in sexualised chat with others.

“At this point MSP blocked the user from the site and contacted police.”

Officers were granted a search warrant and swooped on Ward’s Dornoch home on January 15 last year.

Mr Weir said: “The address was searched and amongst other items recovered was a laptop computer that was subsequently analysed and evidence found to support the charges.”

Mr Weir read out to the court three of the messages Ward had sent to the older child.

In one Ward said: “Oh Babes squeeze. I promise I will make your back arch in joy. My little soldier is standing to attention.”

In the other message, Ward wrote: “I pop a button on your blouse. I kiss the tender skin hiding there. My lips pull gently at the tip.”

And another message read: “I hug you in my mighty MSP arms.”

Defence agent Eileen MacInnes will give her plea of mitigation when Ward appears for sentencing on November 13.

Ms MacInnes said there was a possibility her client might not be able to appear on that date as he was due to have an operation after which he expected to be bed-ridden for a month.

Sheriff Chris Dickson asked the Crown to provide examples at the next hearing of messages sent by Ward to the younger child.

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