Quick-thinking teacher helped police catch a Warwick man who was grooming a 14-year-old girl online
He has been jailed for 20 months
Alarm bells started ringing when a schoolgirl challenged over using her mobile phone in class said she could not speak to her boyfriend later because he would be ‘with his kid.’
Her teacher’s suspicions proved correct when it was found the 14-year-old had been exchanging sexual images with a Warwick man more than three times her age but posing as a 28-year-old.
And Jason Clarke was jailed for 20 months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and sexual communication with a child.
Clarke (47), of Warwick, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Prosecutor Ravi Sidhu said that the girl was at school in September 2019 when she was challenged by a teacher about using her mobile phone in class.
She responded by saying: “I can’t speak to my boyfriend later because he’s with his kid.”
That caused alarm, and the teacher notified the head who contacted the girl’s mother.
And when her mother questioned her, the girl said that while using a social network site some weeks earlier she had met a man called Jason who had told her he was 28 and an ex-soldier.
Their communication had become sexual, with Jason saying he wanted to have sex with her, and she said they had exchanged sexual images of each-other.
The girl told the police that at first she had said she was 15, but had then told him her real age.
When Clarke was arrested he claimed it was the girl who started the communication and he was ‘just going along with it,’ but he knew it had to stop or they would both get into trouble.
In an impact statement directed at Clarke, the girl’s mother said: “Since I found out what you had done to my daughter I had to watch her become a shadow of her former self.”
Of letters and a pre-sentence report on Clarke, Recorder Jacob Hallam QC commented: “There is a cruel and remarkable irony that someone who pleads for mercy based on his mental health issues should have inflicted such dreadful mental health injuries on his victim.”
Callum Church, defending, said: “Mr Clarke has brought a bag, knowing full well what the sentencing guidelines say about his offending and that there is a significant possibility he does not leave this court through the door through which he entered.
“This is unacceptable conduct for which I suspect Mr Clarke will never forgive himself.
“He maintains to me that he no longer has a sexual interest in children, however he accepts that at the time he must have done.”
Arguing that the judge could consider an alternative to an immediate sentence, Mr Church said Clarke knew what he did was ‘unspeakably awful,’ and had been taking steps to rehabilitate himself.
But jailing Clarke, Recorder Hallam told him: “You encountered your victim online and swiftly you learned she was 14.
"You pretended you were not a man in his mid- to late-40s who lived with his loving wife and who was the father of two children, instead you pretended you were a 28-year-old ex-soldier.
“Swiftly the nature of the conversation changed to sexual matters, and astonishingly in your police interview you sought to put some or all of the blame for that on your victim.
“Equally astonishingly, you said you realised the conversations needed to stop or you and she could both get into trouble. That is utterly bewildering. She did nothing wrong.
“You Jason Clarke did everything wrong. You utterly misled this child for your own sexual gratification.”
Detective Constable Claire Scott from Warwickshire Police CID said: “Clarke showed typical behaviours associated with grooming. He made his victim feel special to the point where she believed they were in love; in fact he was just grooming her for his own sexual gratification.
“His actions continue to have a huge impact on his victim who has shown great bravery in supporting this investigation.”