November 2017

Pervert sexually assaulted 12-year-old after grooming her on Snapchat

A 19-year-old youth has been jailed for grooming and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.

Matthew Southren, from Stockton, wooed the youngster on the Snapchat social-media site where they agreed to meet in a York suburb.

Southren and the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, met in fields where he sexually assaulted her, York Crown Court was told.

The girl later deactivated her Snapchat account but Southren got in touch with her again on Facebook and another meeting was arranged in the same fields, said prosecutor Nick Adlington.

Southren again sexually assaulted the girl at the second meeting, when the youngster was with a friend.

The victim told him she didn’t like what he was doing and walked off with her friend, said Mr Adlington.

Southren, of Rockborn Way, Ingleby Barwick, was arrested at his then home in York on February 24 and charged with three counts of sexual assaulting a girl under 13 and one count of inciting sexual activity with an underage girl. He appeared for sentence on Friday after admitting each of the charges.

Mr Adlington said that Southren and the girl started messaging each other on Snapchat in January when the defendant initially told her he was aged 15 or 16 when in fact he was then 18.

The girl initially told Southren she was 14, but two days later told him her real age was 12, added the barrister.

The first meeting was arranged on Snapchat where Southren offered to meet the girl in fields in the York suburb. On arrival, he kissed the girl before sexually assaulting her.

“She didn’t like what he was doing and pretended to be busy on her mobile phone,” said Mr Adlington.

But Southren tried to get her to touch him on an intimate part of his body and the girl “pulled away, shouting at him, asking him what he was doing”.

The girl later closed her Snapchat account and noticed that Southren’s Facebook profile showed he was 18.

Despite the six-year age gap, the girl agreed to meet Southren a second time in the same fields two weeks later after he rang her requesting another meeting when the second assault took place.

The victim later told her mother and police were informed.

Southren’s barrister Sean Smith said his client was immature for his age and had led a previously blame-free life.

But Judge Paul Worlsey QC told Southren: “This girl was only 12 and whatever naivete you may have, you were six years her senior and you knew full well that what you were doing.”

He said Southren’s grooming of the girl for his own “sexual gratification” was likely to have a long-term effect on her.

Southren was jailed for two years. He was also ordered him to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years and was made subject to a sexual-harm prevention order for the same period of time.

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