Highland man who preyed on young girls is jailed for 27 months
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A sheriff has jailed a man who preyed on young girls via social media and placed him on the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years.
Craig McNeill told the girls he would harm their families if they did not send him naked pictures of themselves.
The 22-year-old also sent his victims pictures of himself committing a sexual act.
Sentence had been deferred on 12 charges for background reports.
When he appeared for sentencing today at Inverness Sheriff Court his solicitor Duncan Henderson told Sheriff Margaret Neilson: "I have to accept this is a very worrying and continuing trend of offences."
Mr Henderson asked the court to take account of his client's relative youth and lack of previous offending.
"It appears he was on this treadmill of coming home from work and spending time on the internet and committed these offences," he said. "It's sad that a man of his age did not have more to occupy himself."
The court had previously been told McNeill, of Loch Avenue, Nairn, contacted the girls, aged 12 to 16, between February 2018 and November last year, using Snapchat.
He admitted 12 charges ranging from extortion to attempted extortion, distributing indecent images and communicating indecently with 11 different girls.
Fiscal Depute Robert Weir told the court at an earlier hearing how one of his victims received a Snapchat request from McNeill, who was unknown to her.
She exchanged intimate images with him over a short period of time in 2018, then contact ceased.
But he later contacted her again and said if she did not send more naked images he would share the ones he had on social media.
McNeill also told a 13-year-old that he would kill her mother if she did not send intimate pictures of herself. She sent him two images of herself fully clothed then blocked him
He told another girl that he was 17 and sent her pictures of a male committing a sex act on himself, sending similar videos to another girl who he also gave a false name to, and told her he was from Wick.
He contacted numerous other girls also using false names, sending intimate pictures and asking for the same, with threats against them or their families if they did not comply.
The fiscal said he told one 12-year-old that he would kill her family, inducing her to send him topless pictures of herself.
Sentencing McNeill to 27 months imprisonment, Sheriff Margaret Neilson in told him: "Despite your young age and previous good character, given the sheer scale and nature of the charges only a custodial sentence is appropriate."