16th November 2018
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Man sent lewd pictures to girls on Snapchat

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A man has been placed on the sex offenders’ register after he admitted sending indecent images of himself to girls under 16 through the social media site Snapchat.

Robert Shewan Groat, 25, of South Road, Lerwick, has been told all options will be considered when he comes back to court for sentencing later this month.

Groat pleaded guilty to sending the images to four girls when he appeared in the dock on Wednesday.

He admitted intentionally causing 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 incidents happened in Bressay and elsewhere in the isles.

Sheriff Philip Mann was told the girls were outwith the age-range where they would be “properly regarded” as “appropriately” being in Groat’s company.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie told the court: “I’d question why anyone of his age would have any sort of relationship with children of these ages.”

He said the incidents started when one of the girls added Groat to the social media site, which allows people to post pictures, for the “sole purpose” of communicating with him about a rowing team he was starting up.

But Groat began sending unwanted images of himself lying on his bed, “with messages which conveyed a sexual connotation”.

“These were images that the complainer did not seek out,” said Mr MacKenzie.

“She didn’t want them and found it difficult to assert herself.”

The court heard a very similar pattern of events developed with all of Groat’s victims.

After some time one of the girls “burst into tears” before her father and told him of what had happened.

He then went to meet another of the girls’ fathers to discuss the problem. But on his way, he met Groat outside a shop.

“He asked him if he had any idea why his daughter was so upset in her bedroom,” Mr MacKenzie said.

Groat initially denied sending the pictures and claimed his account had been hacked.

The father urged him to find out who it was who had hacked his account so the police could be informed.

But the next day Groat attended at the father’s house and admitted he had been sending pictures to his daughter. He then went to the other parents’ houses and did likewise.

The police became aware, inquiries commenced and Groat was detained and interviewed.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Groat had accepted what he had done and had co-operated fully.

“These offences were now some time ago,” he said.

“There is no suggestion he has been involved in anything since then.”

Mr Allan said he hoped Groat could remain at liberty while reports were prepared.

Sheriff Philip Mann said: “I am obliged to call for reports because of the nature of the offences to which you have pled guilty.

“I have to say to you these are extremely serious charges, and I’m bound to bear in mind all possible disposals.”

Groat was ordained to appear for sentence on 23rd November. He was also made subject to the notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act.