An Ardrossan man is facing jail for grooming what he thought was a 12-year-old girl – after being stung by an online group targeting paedophiles.

Garry Allmark, 46, was brought to justice with the help of a group known as the Scotland Anti Predator Alliance (SAPA).

Operatives from the group snared Allmark online while he was living at a flat in Glasgow Street with his wife and eight-year-old son.

They then arranged to meet him and confronted him over the vile messages he had sent to one of their decoys during a meeting at Harvie's.

As well as sending a picture of a male penis, Allmark sent what he thought was a youngster pictures of women performing sex acts on themselves.

He sent the 'child' so many messages SAPA operatives gave police 410 pages of print outs showing his texts.

The details emerged this week when Allmark, who now lives in Burns Street, Irvine, appeared in the dock at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court for a pre-trial hearing.

He struck a deal with prosecutors which saw him pleading guilty to one charge in exchange for another being dropped.

He admitted a charge under Section 23 and 24(1) of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 by attempting to have sexual communication with a young child, and sending sexual pictures and videos to what he thought was an underage girl.

The charge that was dropped stated he had tried to meet what he thought was an underage girl with the intention of having a sexual encounter with her.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Jo Cunningham explained: "Between March 30, 2018, and May 5, 2018, the accused had been in communication with a person whom he assumed was a child under the age of 13.

"The communication he had was, in fact, with the Scottish Anti Predator Alliance.

"Following their contact with the accused, the Alliance contacted police and they provided them with hard copies of messages which had been exchanged between the accused and the 'child'.

"Police, on receipt of the evidence, arrested the accused."

Allmark was taken to Saltcoats Police Office where he was interviewed, confirming to police officers that "he had been in conversation with a female whom he believed to be 12 years of age."

Miss Cunningham explained: "The majority were not all of a sexual nature however, when taken together, appear to be an attempt by the accused to groom the 12-year-old, and there were items of a sexual nature within them.

"In addition to sending personal images to the 'child', he also sent her a photo of a male penis and images of a nude female masturbating.

"When he engaged with the child it appears he also sent a number of images of himself to her."

Allmark, who was assisted in court by a sign language interpreter, nodded during his police interview to confirm he'd had sexual conversations with the 'child' and that he knew it was illegal, but insisted he was "not a paedophile."

Sheriff Elizabeth McFarlane placed Allmark on the Sex Offenders' Register, called for background reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing and adjourned the case until next month for that to be done.