A LONG-SERVING paramedic and Scout volunteer allegedly posed as his 'widowed wife' online to find a young girl to abuse.

John Pattison was on leave after being injured working for the South Central Ambulance Service when he began using chatrooms to discuss abusing children, prosecutors said.

He began speaking with someone he believed was the father of a girl, but was in fact an undercover police officer, and arranged to meet at a branch of Sainsbury's, it was heard.

When he was arrested, his laptop and phone were seized. Indecent images of children were discovered.

Pattison, of Mallow Close in Christchurch, admitted nine counts of possessing indecent photographs of a child and one of possessing an extreme pornographic image.

The defendant, who previously helped at the 49th Bournemouth Air Scouts, appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court for sentence on Monday.

Rob Welling, prosecuting, said: "The defendant engaged with an undercover police officer looking for those who would be attracted to meeting with young children.

"There was chat between him and this officer.

"It resulted in the defendant going to Sainsbury's to meet a man he believed was called John, John's wife and John's young daughter."

Mr Welling said Pattison and 'John' had discussed their desire to abuse children.

"There was conversation by the defendant, who was pretending to be his widowed wife - something he had done on previous occasions," Mr Welling said.

"On previous occasions, he had been 'let down'."

Pattison was not charged in relation to the offences relating to 'John'.

During police interview, the defendant, 44, told police the images found on his devices had been sent to him by others.

He did not find images of abuse "sexually alluring" and had tried, on several occasions, to report the image as abuse "to bring those who sent it to justice", he said.

Nick Robinson, mitigating, said Pattison has no previous offences.

"He is deeply ashamed and has expressed remorse," Mr Robinson said.

"He accepts how serious this is. He is demonstrably ashamed and incredibly emotional."

Judge Brian Forster QC told the defendant: "Following injury in the course of your duties, you have been at home, possibly with too much time to fill.

"You have become, in a sense, addicted to going to the chatroom that has brought about this appearance before the court today."

Pattison, who clutched his chest and shook during the hearing, covered his face as Judge Forster said he still had the support of family.

"You are fortunate," the judge said.

"I have been able to consider not only the content of the pre-sentence report, but the references which have been provided to me.

"They speak of this being totally out of character."

Pattison was sentenced to a three-year community order with a 60-day sex offenders programme. He will also be the subject of a sexual harm prevention order, and must comply with notification requirements for five years.

A spokesperson from The Scout Association said: "The association is aware of the court proceedings involving John Pattison and has co-operated fully with the statutory agencies throughout this investigation.

"It is appropriate that he has pleaded guilty and will be suitably punished for his crimes. Pattison was suspended from all involvement with the Scout Movement as soon as we were made aware of the investigation.

"Pattison will never be allowed to volunteer with us again. It has been confirmed to us by the relevant authorities that none of Pattison victims in this case were Scouts and his offences have no connection to Scouting."