May 2013

Police welcome sex offender’s jail term

walker

POLICE have welcomed a 40-month sentence given to a man for having sex with a schoolgirl – and urged other victims not to “suffer in silence”.

James Walker, 30, of Skelton, took the 13-year-old girl, who he met via the internet, to a flat in Hartlepool, where they were left alone.

Prosecutor Harry Hadfield told Teesside Crown Court that Walker was using a social website on December 10 last year when he first contacted her.

Over the next few days, they arranged to meet in Middlesbrough on December 16.

Walker travelled there by bus and they walked around Middlesbrough together, and she told him she was 13. They kissed and cuddled and after an hour, Walker took the bus home.

Mr Hadfield said over the next few days, Walker sent graphic images of himself to her and a video of himself performing a sex act.

In January, he again arranged to meet her in Middlesbrough. This time she was accompanied by a friend, and they went to shops where Walker bought her a teddy bear and a card.

Walker subsequently arranged with her to go with him to his sister’s flat in Hartlepool. They went there by bus on January 4 and when they arrived, his sister left to go to the launderette.

Mr Hadfield said: “They engaged in mutual sexual activity, before the girl took the bus home alone.”

Walker was arrested on January 21. In interview, Walker admitted she looked very young. He accepted she looked 13 to 14 years old, and maybe even younger.

He said he had arranged the visit to his sister’s flat to engage in sexual activity with the girl. He accepted she said she was 13 after first meeting with him.

Jodie Kidd, defending, said the girl encouraged Walker to send her sexual images of himself and she sent him explicit pictures of herself.

Miss Kidd said the girl’s father contacted police on January 18, expressing serious concern about the content of her computer.

He called in police after he found she had been speaking to 10 men, aged 17-30, and she had told some of them that she loved them.

But Miss Kidd added: “There is no evidence of grooming. It is accepted by her in interview she misled him about her age.”

Judge Gilliam Matthews QC told Walker: “The serious nature of your offending cannot be denied.

“Regardless of whether or not she did throw herself at you, sending you photographs of herself in sexual positions, you were 30 years of age.

“You had plenty of opportunities to disengage from the link with this child.”

Walker, of Hollybush, Skelton, was jailed for 40 months, ordered to register as a sex offender for life, given a Sexual Offence’s Prevention Order banning him from internet contact with children until further order, and disqualified from working with children after pleading guilty to three offences of sexual activity with a 13-year-old child.

Detective Constable Iain Pearson of Middlesbrough CID said he was “pleased” with the sentence.

He added: “The sentence demonstrates that police take incidents of this nature extremely seriously and those people that commit such offences will be dealt with robustly by the courts.

“I hope the victim and her family can take some form of comfort from the outcome and she can now move on with her life.

“We encourage any victims of sexual abuse to come forward and not suffer in silence.”