A Leamington man who befriended and groomed a 13-year-old boy, giving him money and gifts, before sexually assaulting him has been jailed for 18 months.
Neil Taylor, 22, of Tachbrook Road, Leamington, had pleaded guilty to charges of child grooming, sexual assault and making indecent images of children by downloading them.
Jailing him, a judge at Warwick Crown Court also ordered him to register as a sex offender for ten years and imposed a sexual harm prevention order for the same period.
Prosecutor Scott Coughtrie said that Taylor met the boy in 2013, and they talked about things they were both interested in, which led to ‘inappropriate behaviour over a period of time.’
Part of Taylor’s grooming of the boy even involved him speaking to the boy’s father and offering to give the youngster lifts, claiming he had to pass their home anyway.
In fact he lived in a completely different part of town, pointed out Mr Coughtrie.
That progressed to Taylor buying him gifts and giving him money, including £5 for being his friend.
“There was one occasion when the defendant was providing him with driving lessons, despite him being only 13, and he was stopped by the police driving round an industrial estate, and words of advice were given.”
Contact between Taylor and the boy progressed to physical contact, with him asking the boy for ‘hugs and squeezes,’ which took place on 20-30 occasions in 2014.
The hugs included what Taylor described as ‘a Titanic hug,’ which he asked for after telling the boy he could lose his licence as a result of them being stopped on the industrial estate.
He approached him from behind and hugged him tightly from the rear, pressing his groin against the boy who could feel Taylor was aroused.
The boy recalled he had felt embarrassed and scared, and since the incidents, which came to light after he confided in a friend who persuaded him to tell his father, he has had to receive counselling.
Following Taylor’s arrest, the police seized his laptop on which they found 217 indecent images of children, both boys and girls, aged between three and 15.
When he was interviewed Taylor admitted hugging the boy on four occasions, but he claimed it was never from behind, and he denied having any sexual motivation.
Nick Devine, defending, said: “He is a man of hitherto good character. He was 20 at the time of these offences, but he was a very immature 20-year-old, both sexually and socially.
“The best description of how he viewed the boy was that he became infatuated with him. The sexual activity, was of a very low level in terms of what this court is used to dealing with.”
But jailing Taylor, Recorder Adrian Redgrave QC told him: “What makes this case so serious is the persistent, lengthy period of grooming of this young boy.
“You were going out of your way to meet him. The motivation behind this grooming was sexual, as your plea of guilty admits. Minor as the sexual activity was, it was in the context where the boy felt distinctly uncomfortable and felt beholden to you because you had groomed him.
“The offence of sexual grooming is one which is to be taken seriously by the courts, so others may be deterred from such activity.”
PC Mark Finch from Warwickshire Police said: “Taylor deliberately targeted and befriended his teenage victim, he groomed him purely for his own gratification. “He is clearly a danger to children, and we are committed to tracking down offenders like him.
“The victim has shown exceptional bravery and should be commended for his courage in coming forward.
“This case proves that we will take all reports of abuse seriously, no matter when it took place, and we will thoroughly investigate all reports.”
Officers are asking for anyone who sees signs of a child being sexually exploited to contact them immediately.
Call police on 101, or Childline on 0800 1111.