Update: Now living in Scarborough

March 2016

Girl, 14, was sexually abused – then was hounded by Facebook trolls

A young man has been jailed for subjecting a 14-year-old girl to “shocking, degrading treatment” in a North Yorkshire park.

Friends and supporters of Matthew Liam Dunning, 21, mounted a Facebook campaign against the girl claiming she was lying about what he did to her, York Crown Court heard.

In a victim impact statement, she said one woman had assaulted her in a bid to get her to drop the case.

But when Dunning, of Castlegarth, Thornton-le-Dale, northern Ryedale, appeared before York Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to two offences of sexual activity with the girl.

“You have limited intelligence, limited understanding and limited insight, but you knew full well that what you were doing was wrong,” Recorder Stuart Brown QC told him.

“Indeed immediately after the incident, you apologised, making it plain she (the girl) should not report matters. You were concerned for yourself than you were for yourself.”

He jailed Dunning for three years and eight months, put him on the sex offenders’ register for life and made him subject to a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

In the statement, which was read to the court, the girl wrote how she was so frightened of meeting Dunning, she couldn’t go out with her friends or go shopping.

She wrote: “This has been taken away from me. My precious teenage years will be forever marred by Matthew Dunning’s one night of shocking, degrading treatment of me. I am a child, he is a man and should have known better.”

She wrote that since the incident, she suffered regular nightmares.

She had had “hundreds of messages” sent to her via Facebook, copied to Dunning, calling her a liar.

Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, said Dunning had sent text messages to the girl to arrange a meeting and asking her if she would have sex with him.

She replied that she didn’t want sexual intercourse and with a friend travelled to meet him in a park in Thornton-le-Dale. The friend went for a bike ride and while she was gone for about 15 minutes, Dunning had full sex with her and got her to perform a sexual act. The incident made her uncomfortable and feel sick.

Afterwards, Dunning said he would harm himself and the girl went to the police.

For Dunning, David Horne said he had been a respectable, hard-working member of society who had made a “very, very serious mistake and very, very, serious error of judgement.”

He suffered from depression and had other health problems.