A MAN who sparked protests outside his home by angry residents after he was caught sending “vile” images of himself to a person he believed was a young schoolgirl has been jailed.

Brian Johnstone contacted an online account he believed belonged to a 14-year-old child named Sophie and began sending her messages of a sexual nature.

Johnstone asked the girl to meet up with him on several occasions and repeatedly asked her to send him indecent images of herself over a two-week period in May 2021.

But the 61-year-old was caught after it emerged that the account was actually being run by a paedophile hunter group decoy who was attempting to catch online predators.

The hunter group confronted Johnstone at his former home in Musselburgh and the police were soon alerted to the disturbance and he was arrested.

Johnstone admitted to indecently communicating with a child when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month and returned to the dock for sentencing on Monday.

Sheriff John Cook said “the nature of the communication was vile” and acknowledged that this was the second time Johnstone had committed the same offence.

The sheriff heard that Johnstone had attempted to “minimise his offending” to the social worker compiling the court report but was now “accepting fully he committed this offence”.

Johnstone, currently of Maybole, South Ayrshire, was jailed for 163 days and was placed on the sex offenders' register for five years.

Following his arrest, Johnstone was forced to flee the area after angry residents staged several protests outside his flat at the town’s Watts Close and at nearby council buildings.

East Lothian Courier:

Johnstone pleaded guilty to indecent communication with a child by sending written sexual communication to a man, who was pretending to be a child, by requesting she meet up with him and repeatedly requesting she send indecent images of herself between May 2 and 15, 2021.