November 2014

‘No avoiding jail’ for man who sexually touched two underage girls

A young man who sexually touched two underage girls was jailed as a judge said there was “no avoiding” prison for him.

Paul Daniel Hodgson, 21, offending came to light when a girl revealed he had touched her in September last year.

The girl, several years younger than him, said she was shocked and jumped up when he tried to take off an item of her clothing.

Then he touched her private parts over her clothes, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He also sent her messages via social media asking her to “come over” for sex, said prosecutor Shaun Dodds.

After his phone was seized, it emerged that Hodgson had sexual contact with another girl a few years ago.

The schoolgirl, who was also younger than him, met him via social media where they had sexual conversations.

They later took part in consensual sexual activity, the court was told.

She later said she felt pressure to have sex with the older boy and it affected her education.

Hodgson, formerly of High Row, Loftus, admitted four charges of sexual activity with a child and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. He had no relevant previous convictions.

David Lamb, defending, said Hodgson pleaded guilty to most of the counts at the first time of asking.

He said: “The two complainants would have known at a very early stage that they would not be required to come to court and give evidence.”

He said there was no suggestion that the earlier complainant was “anything other than an enthusiastic and willing participant in that sexual activity”.

And it was not a case where there was a “significant disparity” in age, he added.

“He was still a child himself at the time that these offences began,” said Mr Lamb.

He told how Hodgson was genuinely ashamed and upset over his actions and strongly denied having a preference for young girls.

He asked the judge to let Hodgson keep his freedom and put his crimes behind him “as part of his adolescence”.

Judge Peter Armstrong said there was “grooming behaviour” when it came to the earlier victim, the resulting activity was consensual and without force, but she was too young for it.

“The idea behind this law is to protect some young girls against their own inclinations,” he added.

He gave Hodgson “considerable credit” for having the courage to plead guilty.

“But I’m afraid there is no avoiding an immediate custodial sentence,” he told the defendant.

He jailed Hodgson for 20 months and gave him an indefinite sexual offences prevention order banning him from unsupervised contact with girls under 16 and governing his internet use.