July 2020

Workington man jailed over sexual relationship with schoolgirl

A Workington man who groomed a 14-year-old schoolgirl for sexual activity has been jailed.

Joshua Sibbald, 21, met the girl through Facebook and repeatedly met her for the purposes of sexual gratification, said a judge at Carlisle Crown Court.

The defendant, of Salterbeck Drive, Workington, admitted eight counts of sexual activity with a child.

Prosecutor Tim Evans outlined how Sibbald – who was 19 at the time – contacted the girl in September, 2018, and he knew from the outset that she was a child.

“There were sexualised messages which passed between them,” said the barrister.

This developed into a sexual relationship.

The offences came to light when the girl’s mother became concerned about her behaviour and accessed her phone.

She found messages from the girl to friends, discussing her “sex life.”

The defendant was referred to by a false name.

Judge Michael Hayton QC said there were elements of “grooming” and “blackmail” in the offences admitted by Sibbald.

“This was not a child-like infatuation,” said the judge, pointing out that the relationship was ‘heavily sexualised.”

The judge accepted it was not a case where a much older man had predated on a much younger girl but he noted that there had been an element of “controlling behaviour” from Sibbald, who threatened to kill himself if she left him.

The judge told the defendant: “In my judgement, the whole purpose of you making contact with her, and, more significantly, pursuing contact with her, was to further your sexual gratification needs.”

As well as imposing an immediate three year jail term, the judge imposed a five year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and the put Sibbald on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

Sibbald wept throughout much of the hearing.

Sibbald is a dangerous man who groomed his victim, and threatened to harm himself if his victim didn’t continue to see him. He was very manipulative and lied about knowing his victims age