October 2017

Pervert groomed schoolgirl for sexual activity

A family whose teenage daughter was targeted sexually by a man they called a friend have issued a heartfelt plea to parents.

The girl, who was 14 at the time of the incident and cannot be named for legal reasons, was preyed on by Craig Bradford whom they had known for more than two years.

The trauma of the experience led to her becoming “increasingly ill” after she stopped taking her regular medication, eventually leading to her being hospitalised.

Father-of-three Bradford, 26, formerly from Paddock Wood and more recently of Styles Way, Wadhurst, was jailed for six months today after pleading guilty to three counts of undertaking non-penetrative sexual activity with a minor.

Maidstone Crown Court heard members of the victim’s family had known Bradford for some time and had invited him to a barbecue.

During the party Bradford had spoken to the host’s daughter and had also spoken to the family when he offered to help support them by assisting with some domestic duties.

Prosecutor Ben Irwin stated how Bradford, aged 25 at the time, had “gained the trust” of the victim’s family, and visited their address on multiple occasions over the following month.

He described Bradford’s frequent visits to the house, where he would help with odd jobs.

It was during this time that the victim’s parents became aware of something going on, noticing their daughter “exchanging looks” with Bradford, and her behaviour changing in that she would offer to take the family dog out on long walks.

During this period Bradford had met his victim at her home, at his home, and in public, where he had “kissed” her.

Bradford also bought her a Pandora ring on the advice of one of her friends, something her parents had noticed.

It was revealed in court that Bradford had sent his victim “inappropriate messages” on Facebook, frequently suggesting they should meet up and encouraging her to make up excuses to her parents for her absence.

On one occasion he also encouraged her to “have a drink” and even talked of the possibility of them getting together again after she was 16, and possibly even having children together.

He had also said to it was a “shame you’re not older” and encouraged her to keep their ‘relationship’ a secret as people would think it was “weird”.

After the victim’s parents had confronted him about the messages, he replied by saying “I’ll do whatever the f*** I like.”

In a personal statement read out by the victim in court she described how she had “cried at night” and “was feeling so low I didn’t care about anything or anyone”.

It was also heard the incident had a “serious effect” on her education as well as her relationship with the rest of her family, and she had to attend counselling sessions as a result.

Bradford was given a six month sentence to be run concurrently across all three charges, as well as an indefinite sexual harm prevention order with conditions that he not approach the victim or attend her address, and forbids him from speaking to or living with children under 16 other than his and his partner’s children unless in unavoidable circumstances or with permission from an officer.

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