December 2009

Man who admitted affair with teenage girl spared jail

A MAN aged 19 who began a physical relationship with a girl when she was just 13 has been spared jail.

The pair of them kept their romance secret for three years until her dad found her mobile phone containing pictures of her in various states of undress.

Philip Bentham, now 23, of Allesley Croft, Allesley, Coventry, admitted six charges of sexual activity with the girl until one month before her 16th birthday in March this year, although they never had full intercourse, Coventry Crown Court heard.

He also admitted taking half-naked images of her while she was under the age of 16, and a further charge of kissing a 12-year-old girl on an undisclosed date.

Judge Peter Ross told Bentham he deserved to go to prison for two years, but because there would have been no rehabilitation while inside, instead ordered him to take part in a sex offenders’ programme for three years.

Bentham, who works for Severn Trent, in Finham, was also banned from unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 16, and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

The court heard Bentham met the girl at a church camp in Wales in 2005.

Her dad was suspicious about their relationship because she always deleted her text messages, but eventually found one from Bentham in 2007 saying “I love you.”.

But the dad went to the police in April this year after finding photos of her in provocative poses on her mobile.

Graeme Simpson, defending, said Bentham and the girl were “genuinely in love” and exercised self-control during their affair.

He added: “It would have been difficult to prosecute him if not for the admissions he made.

“He did not seek to deny this relationship.

“Mr Bentham is a thoroughly decent member of society, with good GCSEs and excellent job prospects.”