A MIDDLE-AGED dad sent an indecent image to a 12-year-old girl and made sexual comments after watching her singing on social media.

Robert McCormack admitting sending a malicious/indecent communication to the girl who was described in court as being ‘embarrassed’ by the defendant’s actions.

The 44-year-old of Upper Field Close, Redditch, was sentenced at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday after admitting the offence on the second day of trial before the girl had come to court to give evidence.

The Crown accepted the plea to this lesser charge, instead of a more serious charge of causing a child to watch a sexual act which carries a 10 year maximum sentence.

Lynnette McClement, prosecuting, said the girl of 12 was using a social media site where people can post live photographs of themselves singing along to pop songs when the defendant sent a message commenting on the girl’s breasts.

She did not reply and a second message followed in which he said he was performing a sexual act upon himself while watching her perform and also sent an indecent image.

Miss McClement said the girl ‘logged off straight away’ but told a friend what had happened who then spoke to her mum who reported the matter to police.

When arrested McCormack said his son may be responsible, and he was later interviewed by police.

Martin Butterworth, defending, said: “The offence he has committed was utterly out of character. There’s material that confirms what is referred to in the pre-sentence report as emotional and depressive problems he was suffering from at the time of this matter.

“There’s reference to him making a suicide attempt shortly after he was arrested and released on bail.”

Mr Butterworth said McCormack was continuing to work to support his ‘substantial family’ and that, because of his plea, the victim had not had to give evidence.

Although McCormack entered a guilty plea Mr Burtterworth said his client continued to deny the offence.

“The damage an immediate custodial sentence would do to this man’s family is immense” said Mr Butterworth.

Judge Nicholas Cole said the matter was more serious because the indecent image was sent following the sending of explicit messages and his sentence required an ‘element of deterrence.’

He said young children were entitled to use the internet without the risk of grown men sending indecent pictures.

He sentenced him to six months in jail suspended for 18 months and ordered him to complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He ordered the forfeiture and destruction of a mobile phone and laptop seized by the police and ordered McCormack to pay a £1,000 contribution towards costs.