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: email@example.com.
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.