AN ALLOA man has narrowly avoided a prison sentence after being caught attempting to send sexual messages and pictures to children in an online sting.

Alexander Davidson was snared by a "paedophile hunting group" with members posing as young girls in an online chat room.

The pervert sent vile sexual messages and images to members of the group who he believed were young girls aged between 12 and 14 years of age.

Davidson was then confronted at his home by the group who filmed his reaction which they then posted on social media.

They told the 55-year-old that some of the material he sent the decoys had "given them nightmares".

Police were then called to the address and Davidson later admitted what he had done to officers.

In a narrative provided to Falkirk Sheriff Court during sentencing last Thursday, February 21, the 55-year-old spoke with four “girls” between February 1 and March 14, last year.

One of the decoys was accompanied by a photograph of a young girl, provided by a now-adult member of the hunter group.

On a mobile phone app, he was told by each decoy that they were underage as he admitted his own age before going on to send messages of a sexual nature, including: “Can [I] see the top of your breasts? Are they big?”.

He went on to describe himself as a “naughty old man”, adding that he “talks dirty, even to young girls”.

One of the decoys received a number of messages and pictures about the accused pleasuring himself.

Thereafter on March 14, the group went to his door where he later admitted to police: “I know why they were here. I should have stopped a long time ago.”

His home was then searched by officers, with his permission.

While being interviewed, Davidson admitted that he had obtained sexual gratification from the conversations.

The narrative went to say that the accused had "no sexual relationship whatsoever with his partner" and that he "provided this as a reason for him seeking sexual interaction online”.

Sheriff Craig Caldwell warned Davidson on the last occasion that he could be facing a prison sentence upon his return to the dock.

However, he avoided custody last week and was told to complete a community payback order with a requirement to be supervised for three years.

He was also told that he will be subject to the notification requirements of the sex offenders’ register for the same period.

Furthermore, his CPO also contains a condition that he must take part in the Moving Forward, Making Changes intensive group-based programme for sex offenders.

Sheriff Caldwell told Davidson, of Hill Park, that he was fortunate not to be going to prison on this occasion.

He said: "These are extremely serious offences, notwithstanding the circumstances in which they came to light.

“Had the circumstances been different – had these individuals with whom you communicated in fact been persons of the age they claimed to be, you would be going to jail."

Sheriff Caldwell added that the “onerous requirement” of the CPO to take place in the group was a direct alternative to custody and any breaches would result in imprisonment.