December 2009

Man jailed for sex offences involving a 13-year-old girl

HORRIFIED parents alerted police after discovering their teenage daughter was exchanging explicit website messages with a 19-year-old boy, Exeter Crown Court has heard.

Alex Cleary, of no fixed abode but staying in Ilfracombe, was jailed for two years and eight months, on Tuesday, December 22, for offences involving a 13-year-old girl.

He pleaded guilty to two offences of having penetrative sex with a child.

Prosecutor Jonathan Barnes said Cleary met the girl through another youngster and they then exchanged messages on a social networking site.

He said that Cleary admitted, during an interview with police, that he had also had a sexual relationship with another girl, aged 14.

She has made no formal complaint and there has not been a prosecution over that alleged offence.

Cleary had invited the 13-year-old to visit an unnamed address where he was staying in Ilfracombe.

“She says she simply went there for a chat not a date,” said Mr Barnes, although he added that what happened next was consensual.

Cleary began to hug the girl, she kissed him and consensual sexual activity happened.

“After that, they shared a spliff together,” said Mr Barnes.

“Matters came to light when her parents found explicit messages between the two of them on the family computer.

“Her father complained to police.”

Cleary was arrested and told officers he had intended to meet the girl on a friendly basis only but his memory was vague.

“He told police he subsequently attempted to commit suicide and he felt very bad about the offence,” said Mr Barnes.

The court heard Cleary has no criminal record except for a reprimand for an unrelated matter.

Defence counsel Richard Crabb handed in letters from his client’s mother, grandfather and doctor.

He said Cleary’s life was a “rather sad picture” and that he had been moving between friends’ homes, with no permanent accommodation.

“He suffered social isolation and associated with younger friends,” said Mr Crabb.

He added that Cleary was on antedepressants when the incident happened and was extremely remorseful about his behaviour.

Judge Philip Wassall told the defendant: “You deny that you were grooming her.

“You plainly were, knowing what followed.

“You took advantage.”

He added that the defendant had a difficult upbringing.

“That doesn’t detract from the advantage you took of a girl who was only just over 13,” he said.

Cleary, wearing a black shirt, black jacket and silver crucifix, was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years and put on the Sex Offender Register until further notice.