March 2021

Ecclefechan chatroom pervert given community service after being caught in police “sting”

A chatroom pervert was caught in an online police “sting” operation, a court heard.

Keith Turk from Ecclefechan believed he was having sexual conversations with a 13-year-old girl called Amber – but in reality he was chatting to an undercover police officer.

Livingston Sheriff Court heard that Police Scotland officers acted on information that Kik app user “Sheep1984” had been engaging in chat with a user he believed to be an underage girl.

Turk sent an image of himself to the fake profile along with a mobile phone number which was registered to his place of work.

Further inquiries confirmed that the accused was the user of that particular phone.

Married Turk, 36, also asked his prey to send him a pair of her pants.

However, the court heard he ended the conversation abruptly after the undercover cop suggested he and the fake 13-year-old should meet up.

Detectives got a search warrant and raided Turk’s then home in Lenzie Avenue, Livingston, West Lothian, in January last year.

Both he and his wife were cautioned and the reason for the enquiry was explained to them.

The accused made unprompted remarks such as “I’ve been on Kik, but not since September” and had to be reminded he was under caution.

When his wife was interviewed she recognised the user name “Sheep1984” as one used by her husband.

His mobile phone was also found to be the same number used to communicate with the 13-year-old Kik profile.

Turk earlier pled guilty to sending communications of a sexual nature to “Amber” and causing an older child to look at a sexual image to obtain sexual gratification or to humiliate, distress or alarm the undercover police constable between September 23 and October 21, 2019.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch said the charge was “concerning” because although it was a police officer online, the accused thought he was sending a sexual message and a sexual image to a 13-year-old girl.

He said: “I’m persuaded, taking into account that the accused is a first offender and the other factors in mitigation, that I can properly deal with this by means of a non-custodial sentence because my belief is it may be a more effective way of preventing the accused doing anything like this again.”

He placed Turk under social work supervision for three years with “stringent” conduct requirements including a ban on him having unsupervised contact with children and limitations on internet use.

He also ordered the accused to carry out 165 hours of unpaid work within 12 months and said his name would remain on the sex offenders’ register for three years.