May 2010

Southampton man Mark North jailed after grooming teenage girl on Bebo

A SOUTHAMPTON teenager has been jailed for 18 months for committing sex acts with a girl he met over the Internet.

Mark North, 19, travelled to Cambridge to see the 14-year-old he had befriended on social networking website Bebo.

After calling at her home he persuaded her to go to a park with him where he touched her sexually and she performed a sex act on him.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffered a panic attack and passed out leading North to call the police

He admitted one count of sexual activity with a child and was put on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

North had denied two further charges, one of sexual activity with a child and another of meeting a child after sexual grooming.

They were both dropped.

Cambridge Crown Court heard that North had been in contact with his victim for about six months on the Bebo networking site.

The court was told that they shared similar interests in clothes and music and that North, who was 18 at the time, knew that she was just 14.

The girl is now having counselling to try and deal with what happened and rebuild her confidence.

Her mother said the whole episode had nearly led to the break-up of her marriage to the girl’s father.

She added: “He’s stolen my daughter’s childhood. It’s your worst nightmare. I can’t describe the pain, it’s awful.

“I don’t feel anything about him. I have been to every hearing, my husband only attended the sentence because he couldn’t bear to look at him. I just felt numb. It was like I was in the room, but not. At least now I feel relief.”