December 2020

Pervert pretended to be 17 to groom 14-year-old girl

A “Manipulative” young man persuaded an underage girl to meet him for a sexual encounter after befriending her on social media.

Aaron Whitwell, who was 21 at the time, told the 14-year-old girl he was aged 17.

Durham Crown Court heard that following an exchange of messages in which she complained of him frequently mentioning sex, she succumbed and agreed to a meeting, in September, 2018.

The court was told that Whitwell met her at a bus stop and they then went into nearby woods for sex.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said it only came to light some weeks later when the girl’s mother found her daughter’s open laptop in her bedroom after she had fallen asleep.

She became concerned after seeing communication between her daughter and the defendant discussing meeting, with one message in which Whitwell said: “Last night was mint babe.”

It was reported to social services and police.

Mr Dodds told the court that when the girl was spoken to, she said she would not have gone as far as she did had she known Whitwell’s true age.

When interviewed Whitwell denied any sexual activity took place.

The now 23-year old defendant, of Lichfield Road, West Cornforth, initially denied engaging in sexual activity with a child.

He changed his plea to guilty at a hearing in August, since when psychological and probation reports were prepared on the defendant.

Judge James Adkin described Whitwell’s messages to the “particularly vulnerable girl” as “manipulative”, trying to “inveigle” himself into the girl’s affections.

“They show a young man who knows about young women’s sensibilities to get from them what he wanted, and that was sex.”

Imposing a 33-month prison sentence he made Whitwell subject of registration as a sex offender and restrictions under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for life.