A trusted army cadet instructor who raped a young girl after climbing through her bedroom window has been jailed for 10 years.
Liam Smith, 23, was described by Judge Peter Armstrong as a manipulative man who had stolen the girl’s childhood, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, said the offending came to light when the victim’s mother noticed she had a new electronic device.
“Inquiries found it was a present from the defendant.” he added.
The court heard the girl was reluctant to talk about what had happened to her, but she did write a letter to the police.
“This led to the defendant being interviewed by the police,” added Mr Cleasby. “At first he was reluctant to go into detail about what had happened.
“He went on to admit he had climbed through the girl’s bedroom window on two occasions after messaging her to arrange the time.
“Sexual intercourse took place between the pair.
“Smith said he felt weird about it, and it was clear the activity was causing the girl pain.
“He said he loved her, even though he knew her age.”
In a victim personal statement read to the court, the girl’s mother said her daughter had become withdrawn and no longer trusted anyone.
The mother said her marriage to the girl’s father had been put under the strain.
Smith, of Oak Grove, Hartlepool, admitted five charges of rape, two charges of indecent assault of a child, one charge of inciting a child to commit sexual activity, and one charge of grooming a child for sex.
He was of previous good character.
Jim Withyman, defending, said in mitigation: “There is not a lot I can properly say to mitigate the inevitable lengthy custodial sentence in this case.
“Mr Smith was disarmingly honest, he is not clamming up, so it may be he can be worked with in prison and after it to prevent further offending.
“He does appear to have convinced himself what he did was acceptable, but he does know it was wrong.
“This may sound hollow to the family, but he does wish to apologise to them through me for the distress he has caused.”
Judge Armstrong jailed Smith for 10 years.
The judge told him: “These were horrendous offences, it is hard to imagine a more serious crime than the rape of a child.
“You manipulated this girl who, inevitably, was flattered by the attention of an older man.
“No blame can be attached to her or her parents, you made all the running.
“Had you not done so, nothing would have happened.
“It was truly wicked behaviour.”
Smith was made the subject of an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order which limits his internet access and contact with children.
He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.