August 2019

Paedophile who groomed 14-year-old girl told police ‘I love being a sex offender’ and ‘I love speaking to schoolgirls’

A paedophile who groomed a 14-year-old girl told police ‘I love being a sex offender’, a court heard.

Damien Read, 21, from Didsbury, was already known to the courts after being convicted of trying to meet up with a girl after grooming her last year.

Police visited his home on Wilmslow Road unannounced, to check whether he was complying with a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) previously imposed.

Read, who has learning disabilities, denied having a phone when police asked during the visit in January.

But while they were in the house, officers heard a vibrating sound coming from a cupboard, prosecutor Andrea Lock told Manchester Crown Court.

They found a Nokia phone, which was later found not to be able to connect to the internet.

As part of the SHPO, Read was banned from having any device which could access the internet, unless it could retain its browsing history.

Officers also found a small red box which contained a telephone number. They called it and a 14-year-old girl answered, who said she was Read’s girlfriend.

Police found Read had been having sexualised chats with the girl, and that she had performed a sexual act on herself after he had asked her to.

The girl, who was said to be ‘vulnerable’, had received a friend request from Read on Facebook. She told Read her true age, while he lied and said he was also 14.

She sent him a picture of herself, which he described as ‘really hot and sexy’.

The girl told Read that ‘she wanted children with him’, the court heard.

When he was arrested, Read said ‘I love being above the law’, ‘I love being a sex offender’ and ‘I love speaking to schoolgirls’.

Officers found that Read had a card for Withington Library.

Read had visited the library almost daily before being arrested in January, and officers investigating CCTV footage found him performing a sex act upon himself while using a computer.

He could have been charged with an offence of indecent exposure, Ms Lock said, but there were no other members of the public in the area of the library at the time.

Read has previous convictions for sexual offences, including in 2015 for sexual activity with a boy, and he also previously breached a court order.

But he was spared jail for his latest offences, after a judge said there was ‘exceptional circumstances’ and that Read had ‘strong personal mitigation’.

Defending, Andrew Evans said that due to his learning disabilities, Read has a habit of saying ‘inappropriate’ things, as well as having an ‘inbuilt propensity to lie’.

“He lies about innocuous things for no good reason,” Mr Evans added.

But while in prison on remand, where he has spent the last seven months, Read made ‘full disclosures’ to other prisoners about why he was in custody, the court heard.

As a result he was ‘repeatedly assaulted’, the court heard.

Reports submitted to the court described Read as ‘immature bordering on childlike’, while another said he ‘struggles to learn lessons and apply what he has been told.

Apparently referring to the terms of his SHPO, Read told a probation officer: “I am sick of being told what I can and can’t do.”

Sentencing, Judge David Stockdale QC told Read: “You were well aware of the terms of the sexual harm prevention order.

“You were able to recite the terms of it, so familiar were you with those terms.

“You have demonstrated a defiance for court orders and court process.

“You were to tell the police on your arrest ‘I love being a sex offender’ and ‘I love being above the law’.”

“In other words you think that you are above the law, and when the law steps in to prevent you from committing sexual offences, as soon as you physically can do so, you re-offend.

“You are well aware of the criminal nature of your offences. You know what you are doing is wrong.”

But judge said Read’s offences were ‘significantly mitigated’ by his learning difficulties.

He said there was ‘exceptional circumstances’ in the case, which would allow him to pass a suspended sentence.

The judge said there was strong personal mitigation and the chance of rehabilitation, after being told that Read would receive one to one support in secure accommodation.

Read admitted offences of communicating with a child under 16 for the purpose of sexual gratification, breaching a sexual harm prevention order and intentionally causing or inciting a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.

He received a 20 month jail term, suspended for two years.

As part of a new sexual harm prevention order which will run indefinitely, Read cannot enter a public library unless he gives prior notice and the visit is approved by the authorities.