September 2017

Burnley pervert who groomed 12-year-old jailed for five years

A PERVERT who groomed and sexually abused a 12-year-old girl has been jailed for five and a half years.

Electrician Neil Baldwin, 29, targeted the girl, when he knew she was vulnerable, sending her explicit texts and photos, Preston Crown Court heard.

At the time of the abuse, the girl — who can not be named for legal reasons — was being bullied at school and was upset she had split up with her boyfriend. She was also self harming.

Baldwin, a father-of-one from Rosemount Avenue, Burnley, had recently separated from his partner and was taking large amounts of cocaine, the court heard.

He gained the youngster’s trust and made sure she deleted any sexualised messages, so he would not be traced.

But after going to the caravan with Baldwin, where he touched her and lured her to engage in sexual behaviour with him, the girl told a family member and Baldwin was arrested.

He was found guilty of grooming and two counts of sexual activity with a child after forcing the girl to give evidence during a trial.

Judge Heather Lloyd, sentencing, said: “You said she was really down and you were supporting her.

“She was a child and clearly didn’t know how to appropriately respond to your behaviour.

“You were the adult and a father and you should have known better.

“On that night in the caravan you took advantage of her low self-esteem and her vulnerability.

“In the weeks and months proceeding, when she was only 12, you groomed her to the point you were able to sexually abuse her.”

In a victim impact statement the girl said Baldwin ruined her life and his own.

Her school work has suffered and she suffered anxiety and sleepless nights anticipating the trial.

Judge Lloyd criticised family members who did not believe the girl’s account of her ordeal.

She told Baldwin: “It may be that your brain was muddled but most men when they are intoxicated for any reason do not sexually offend against anyone, let alone a 12-year-old girl.

“This was not one-off offending but a continuing course of action towards her over the months leading up to the caravan incident.”

The court heard since the offending Baldwin has overcome his addiction to cocaine.

Judge Lloyd jailed him for five and a half years and made a sexual harm prevention order to protect children from him.

She also placed him on the sex offenders’ register for life.