A 61-YEAR-OLD sex offender who sent indecent images online believing they were going to girls aged 12 and 13, has avoided a jail sentence.

This was despite his neighbours writing a letter to court expressing their deep concerns about having to bring up their children next to him in a Crossgates cul-de-sac.

Nicholas Denison repeatedly sent images of his penis to the young girls, who turned out to be a police officer engaged in a sting operation.

Denison appeared for sentencing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court and had brought a bag with him fearing a jail sentence.

Instead, he walked free despite the sheriff saying he fully understood the feelings of the neighbours.

Denison admitted that between January 15 and February 4 via a social media messaging service, Kik, he repeatedly sent images of his erect penis and videos of a pornographic nature to a police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.

Also that between January 8 and February 16, he repeatedly sent images of his erect penis and videos of a pornographic nature to a police officer posing as a 12-year-old girl.

Defence solicitor Mark Harrower said his client had nowhere else to live except his home but conceded: “I’ve no doubt his neighbours would much prefer if he wasn’t there.”

He said: “I do not deny a lengthy sentence would be justified here” but asked for a community-based sentence.

He added that his client was a first offender and “terrified” of prison.

Sheriff Charles Macnair said: “The letter is entirely reasonable and shows real and justifiable concern.

“I can understand their concern about living in the same cul-de-sac as someone who commits these sort of offences and shows an interest in children.”

He added that he had been told there were eight children aged two to 14 living close by to Denison.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing much I can do about that.”

He said he had considered a Sex Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) preventing him from living in the vicinity of children but that would be “difficult to police”.

The sheriff also pointed out that as the Crown had brought the case on summary rather than solemn procedure, any jail sentence would be a relatively short one.

Instead, he imposed a community payback order with 300 hours of unpaid work and three years of supervision.

He also put Denison on a restriction of liberty order for four months and on the sex offenders' register.