A young man from Long Itchington who sexually assaulted a girl he knew was only 14 after arranging to meet her ‘away from prying eyes’ has been jailed.
Paul Bishop, 22, who lives on a narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to meeting a child following grooming and sexually assaulting her, after initially indicating he would deny the charges.
He was jailed for 20 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Recorder Anthony Potter also imposed a restraining order banning him from contacting the girl for five years and a sexual harm prevention order restricting his contact with any child under 16 for 10 years.
Prosecutor Matthew Barnes said that last year a 14-year-old girl received a Facebook ‘friend request’ from Bishop.
She accepted, and they began to exchange messages through Facebook, Snapchat, and by texting. They had also told each other their correct ages.
Mr Barnes said: “Within a few weeks it is obvious that they became flirty, and the defendant would pay her many compliments.
“It progressed to him suggesting meeting up. It was clear he realised she was under 16.”
The girl, who also lived in the mid-Warwickshire area, agreed – and on the first two occasions they met, they just chatted and parted with a hug, ‘but nothing sexual.’
But at their third meeting, which took place in a secluded field near her home, Bishop tried to kiss her and then touch her inappropriately.
Mr Barnes said it was some time later that the girl confided in her grandmother about what had happened, as a result of which the police were contacted.
When he was arrested Bishop told ‘a series of lies’ about the girl having initiated contact and being unaware of her age, and said he could not remember sending any messages about sex, but that if he did, it was probably because he was drunk.
Henry Skudra, defending, said Bishop, who had no previous convictions, works as a fabricator and welder, and has the support of his family.
“There has been some name-calling of Mr Bishop which has verged on threatening at times,” said Mr Skudra, who asked the judge to keep the sentence ‘as short as possible.’
Recorder Potter told Bishop: “I have to sentence you for your actions in grooming her over the course of a couple of months and then meeting up with her on some three occasions, on each occasion at a secluded place of your choosing, and on the last occasion sexually assaulting her.
“As you knew, she was 14 years of age and she was still at school.
“You met up with her on two occasions. You said to her you had to be careful you were not seen together. On neither of those occasions was there any real physical contact between you.
“But on the third occasion you went further. You met up with her in a secluded field, well away from prying eyes, and you went to kiss her.
“It would have been apparent from her reaction that she was not expecting any physical contact between you, but you did not observe the signals at that stage.
“You pulled away and did not seek to go any further – but you had by that stage transgressed the line which exists between an adult male and a child.
“It is quite clear your actions were not in the least bit impulsive, but involved planning by you, and you put pressure on her to conceal the communications between you from others.”