Pervert jailed for three years

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A PERVERT who groomed a schoolgirl after meeting her over the internet has been jailed.

Hartlepool man Frank Smith, 27, persuaded the underage girl into having sex with him more than a dozen times after taking advantage of her young age.

A judge at Teesside Crown Court was told he also took explicit pictures of her and stored them on his mobile phone.

Police also found indecent images of other children on his phone and messages in which he fantasised about abducting and sexually abusing a child.

Ian Mullarkey, prosecuting, said: “She told him she was underage, but he still went ahead with the meeting.”

Smith then started contacting the girl by text messages before having sex with her.

Mr Mullarkey added: “She described how she felt the defendant groomed her when she was young.

“He took advantage of her.”

Smith was arrested after his brother found suspicious text messages on an old mobile telephone while Smith was staying with him in Hartlepool.

Police discovered 21 photographs of the girl on the phone, along with 12 indecent images of other young children and a series of explicit messages in which he fantasised about abducting a child and sexually abusing them.

Officers also traced the victim from details found on the phone.

He accepted he used websites like Facebook to meet women and exchange messages.

Smith later pleaded guilty to meeting a child following sexual grooming, making indecent photographs of children and sexual activity with a child.

Jim Withyman, mitigating, said the offending happened when Smith was “immature”.

He said: “This is not a case where there was ongoing sexual abuse.

“This was a matter that had stopped and the defendant saw the error of his ways and sorted himself out.

“When these matters came to court he wisely pleaded guilty to them.”

Mr Withyman added Smith, now of Henry Street, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, had tried to put something back into the community by working with the Prince’s Trust charity.

Judge Tony Briggs jailed Smith for three years and said: “You effectively met and groomed a girl, conducted a sexual relationship with her on a number of occasions, and during the course of that photographed her, and that is a serious matter.

“I regret custody is inevitable.”