July 2015

Jailed: Sex offender who wrote from prison to tell underage girl ‘you’re mine’

Man, 24, spared jail for child sex abuse images - a week later missing girl, 15, is found in his home

A sex offender who exploited a schoolgirl and wrote to her from prison “you’re mine” has been jailed for six years.

Jonathan Pennington groomed and took advantage of the girl, Teesside Crown Court heard today.

The 26-year-old was repeatedly punished by the courts for his behaviour towards her, including prison sentences.

Despite this – and a court order not to have contact with children – the first thing he did when he was released was to text her.

He sent her a message in April 2014 saying: “Hey, how are you doing? Haven’t seen you for a while, darl.”

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, did not respond, by then wanting nothing to do with him.

Prosecutor Shaun Dodds said: “There was clear grooming, encouraging her to go to his home time and time again.

“There is an element of control.”

Pennington was given a “harbouring notice” telling him to stop associating with the girl.

Yet he was convicted of keeping her away from her carers after police found her on the porch roof of his home, having clambered out of his bedroom window.

While remanded in custody, he sent her a letter saying: “Remember you’re mine”

Mr Dodds said Pennington cunningly sent the letters to someone else to pass on to the girl.

The girl was reported missing and found hiding in the base of a bed at his home just a week after he was spared prison for downloading child abuse images in June 2013.

He had been given a suspended jail term and a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) banning him from having unsupervised contact with children.

He was finally jailed for 18 months in December 2013 for breaching the order and a suspended sentence, for harbouring the girl and obstructing police.

Pennington, of Melsonby Court, Billingham, admitted nine counts of sexual activity with a child.

Robert Mochrie, defending, said Pennington genuinely believed the activity was legitimate and consensual.

Pennington had “limitations”, was diagnosed with mild autism, was slow to appreciate his position, and struggled to understand why people like the victim needed to be protected.

Judge Howard Crowson told him: “She was vulnerable and needed support.

“There was no secret about her age. You simply took advantage of her immaturity. You encouraged her to believe you loved her.”

He said Pennington’s behaviour was exploitative, not loving and caring as the girl believed at the time, and she now realised this.

“Her newfound maturity enables her to see this for what it was,” he added.

Pennington was given a restraining order to keep away from the girl and a new sexual harm prevention order banning him from contact or work with girls under 16 and governing his internet use, both indefinitely.

He will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.

December 2013

Man, 24, spared jail for child sex abuse images – a week later missing girl, 15, is found in his home

A pervert who was previously spared prison despite downloading images of child sex abuse is now behind bars after a 15-year-old missing girl was found at his home.

Police discovered the teenage girl hiding in the base of a bed at Jonathan Pennington’s home just a week after he was given a suspended sentence and Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for the internet crimes.

Although the girl, who was under the care of the local authority, did not make a complaint against Pennington, he was arrested for breaching the SOPO which had banned him from having unsupervised contact with children.

This in turn was a breach of his suspended jail sentence.

Prosecuting, Harry Hadfield told Teesside Crown Court that staff from the girl’s care home had contacted police on June 25 to report the girl missing.

Officers visited Pennington who told them he had not seen the girl for months.

“He invited officers to come in and after a search they found her in the base of a bed unit,” Mrs Hadfield told the court.

Just a fortnight later, Pennington then further violated the orders by sending letters of “an intimate nature” to the young girl from prison.

The 24-year-old, of Bannockburn Way,Billingham, pleaded guilty yesterday to five breaches of the SOPO, breaching the suspended sentence order, harbouring the girl and obstructing police.

The court heard he had been diagnosed with autism and demonstrated “the maturity of someone much younger than his years”.

Defending, Robert Mochrie said: “He may not have appreciated the severity of the nature of the offending at the time.”

Pennington had been given the five-month suspended sentence order in June this year after police found images of child sex abuse, including some in the most serious category and of girls as young as six, on a laptop in his mother’s loft.

Recorder Bernard Gateshill told him: “You chose to ignore that order and within little more than a week you were harbouring that girl at your home.”

Sentencing him to 18 months’ imprisonment, the judge said: “You might have difficulties but I am quite satisfied that you present a danger to young girls.

“These breaches of the order designed to control your activities were deliberate, persistent and could only be dealt with by means of an immediate custodial sentence.”

June 2013

Child abuse images shame of man who was shopped to police by disgusted girlfriend

A MAN who downloaded sickening child pornography was arrested after his shocked girlfriend shopped him to police.

Jonathan Pennington’s then girlfriend was disgusted after she found an indecent picture of a child on his laptop computer when she used it.

She confronted him about it and a couple of weeks later after she found another child porn picture on it.

A male friend of Pennington, 24, also found several movies, one of which featured a 12-year-old Russian girl, when he took his laptop to get fixed.

The friend told a female relative of Pennington’s girlfriend and the tow women decided to report him to police.

Teesside Crown Court also heard that Pennington was discovered sheltering a 14-year-old girl at his home after police had served him with a warning notice to keep away from her.

Police went to his address in January but Pennington had moved his two laptops.

One was at his mother’s house in Billingham and he handed the other in the following day.

Computer experts discovered 15 indecent images on one and nine on another.

He also had 34 prohibited pictures of Japanese cartoons depicting children being abused.

Pennington, of Bannockburn Way, Billingham, admitted two offences of making indecent images of children and one of possessing prohibited images of children.

Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said he only admitted his guilt on the day he was due to stand trial because he had difficulty in accepting the serious and embarrassing offences.

He said Pennington had a difficult upbringing and there were concerns about his behaviour from an early age.

Pennington was given six months prison suspended for two years with probation supervision and ordered to do a Sex Offender’s Treatment Programme.

Judge Peter Armstrong said: “I have read the pre-sentence report and you are a man with problems, clearly you are in need of help.”

Pennington was also made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for 10 years.

He will be sentenced at Teesside Magistrates’ Court later after he was found guilty of harbouring a child last month.