A MAN accused of grooming a 14-year-old girl after striking up a friendship over the internet denied having sex with her.
Sean Clode strongly denied allegations that he had sex with teenager in a tent on Crimdon beach after she arrived in Hartlepool.
The 21-year-old, giving evidence from the stand at the start of his defence, said she turned up out of the blue and he tried to keep her safe until he could put her on a train home to Scotland.
Clode said it was late on the afternoon when the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, called him to say she was in town and she had brought a tent with her.
He took a taxi to collect her and took with him a duvet and two pillows in a black bin bag along with some water.
When asked how he felt about the news, Clode told the jury: “It was weird, she seemed upset and I set off to find her.
“At the time, I didn’t know we would be camping out.”
When he asked her what she was doing in Hartlepool he said she told him she had left home and she needed a break.
He added: “The plan was just to keep her as safe and get her home as soon as possible.
“I honestly wasn’t prepared for her turning up on my doorstep.”
He told the court how they had met while playing Call of Duty Black Ops on the X-Box over the internet and talked to each other through headsets.
But Clode said it was rarely just one on one chat and their conversations were never romantic or sexual.
He admitted knowing she was only 14.
Clode collected the girl and took her to Ocean Road before heading to the beach.
He said he told her she was “mad” and asked her if she wanted him to phone the police or her parents.
Clode admitted not telling anyone he was with her because it would look “creepy and weird” and people would ask questions.
“I was being selfish. I was trying to keep myself from getting a bad name,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a mobile phone.”
He admitted staying in the tent overnight with her until a police helicopter found them the following morning.
But Clode said they just talked and slept.
Rebecca Brown, defending, asked him: “Whilst inside that tent did you have sex with her?”
Clode replied: “No way, never.”
Miss Brown added: “Did you arrange to meet so you could have sex with her?”
He said: “No way.”
Clode said he had “in a way” detained the girl from her parents, but he said: “I didn’t know her parents would be worrying. I’m sorry.
“For some reason I felt I had to look after her.”
The prosecution claim the girl also performed a sex act on him twice, but Clode insisted he could not remember her doing so or was not aware of it.
Earlier, consultant paediatrician Dr Nnenna Cookey told how the girl had “extensive” internal injuries that were consistent with the girl’s first account that she had recently had sex.
Clode, of Glamis Walk, denies sexual grooming, abducting a child and two counts of sexual activity.
The alleged offences are said to have happened in May.
The trial continues.