May 2017

Welwyn Garden City paedophile jailed for six and a half years after exploiting vulnerable young girl

A Welwyn Garden City paedophile, who was first convicted in 1973, has been jailed for six and a half years and put on the sex offenders register for life after exploiting a young girl.

Michael Wood, 56, had sexual activity with the teenager, who was under the age of 16, on three occasions and exchanged explicit images with the girl over the Internet.

When the police raided his home in Welwyn Garden City in June last year Wood, who answered the door in his dressing gown, had been looking at pornography, St Albans Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Nicola Devas said: “It seemed he had been recently using his computer. A chat room was open. The officer could see a web cam was activated and on the screen there was pornography.”

Indecent images of children were found when his computer was examined later.

His home was raided after concerns were raised by the girl’s teachers who had called the police.

The teenager told officers she met Wood in the summer of 2015. They became Facebook friends and he kissed her and sexually touched her just before Christmas that year.

Ms Devas went on: “At a point in January or February 2016 she went to meet the defendant.

“They met in Old Welwyn and went to a secluded area. They got off their bikes. They hugged and the defendant asked her if she wanted to touch him.”

She gave him oral sex and then he had full sex with her.

He also sent the girl indecent images of himself and persuaded her to send him indecent ones of herself.

When his computer was examined, the police found indecent images.

Seventeen images – 6 stills and 11 videos – were at Category A, the most serious level. Eighteen were at Category B (5 stills and 13 videos), and 28 were at Category C, the least serious level. Nineteen were stills and 9 were videos.

Unemployed Wood, now of Maybridge Crescent, Worthing, Sussex, admitted two charges of sexual activity with a child, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and three charges of making (downloading) indecent images of children.

He had 3 convictions for 4 sexual offences: in 1973 for gross indecency with a child, indecent assault and gross indecency in 1982 and from March 1997 an indecent assault on a girl aged under 16.

Will Noble, defending, asked for credit for his early guilty plea, saying his last conviction was 20 years ago and resulted in a sex offender treatment programme.

Jailing him, Judge Stephen Warner said: “These are extremely serious offences, involving the exploitation of a young girl by you, a much older man.

“She was young and she was vulnerable. You did it for your own gratification.”

Wood must register as a sex offender for life and abide by the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order indefinitely.

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