September 2016

Northumberland man jailed for child sex offences

A soldier who molested a teenager while grooming another girl for sex with wads of cash and expensive gifts is today behind bars.

Luke Stoddart subjected a 16-year-old to a sexual assault in the back of his car while she couldn’t get out because the child locks were activated.

Around the same time, he was grooming a 15-year-old girl, showering her with gifts including a phone, clothing, jewellery, cigarettes and alcohol, plus more money than she knew what to do with.

When she rejected his advances, he turned nasty by threatening to tell her secrets to her friends and family and saying he would harm himself.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 20-year-old, never in trouble before, had got close to the teenagers by offering them lifts in his car.

Now Stoddart, who admitted sexual assault and meeting a child following sexual grooming, has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

The court heard it was just after Christmas when Stoddart contacted the 16-year-old and said he wanted to meet to talk.

He picked her up in his car, told her to get in the back and he also got into the back.

Prosecuting, Elizabeth Muir said: “He took her phone from her, which was normal practice when she met him because he didn’t like her texting other people when with him.

“He asked her to play with him. She did so. She was locked in the car with child locks and said she didn’t want to do so.”

Stoddart then sexually assaulted the girl, leaving her feeling “horrible and scared”.

Miss Muir said: “She tried to push him off but was unable to do so.”

The victim was left with bruising to her upper arm and the top of her thighs, the court heard.

The second victim, 15, was groomed by Stoddart, who gave her presents and hundreds of pounds in cash.

Miss Muir said: “She was initially introduced to him as someone who would provide a lift-giving service.

“Over time he showered her with gifts and money. At times he gave her more than £200 a week.

“One time she was given £500 and she said she had so much money she didn’t know what to do with it so she bought her friend a bracelet.

“The defendant also bought her an iPhone, clothing, jewellery, cigarettes and alcohol.

“He began to pressure her to, as he put it, take the relationship to the next level.

“He put his hand on her thigh.

“He threatened to tell her mother and friends her secrets when she refused.

“He also pressured her by threatening to kill himself if she stopped seeing him and said he would cut himself as a result of her not wanting to see him.

“Indeed he sent her a picture of an arm with cuts on, saying they were cuts inflicted on himself but a friend of hers said it was in fact a female arm.”

Stoddart, of Fern Avenue, Cramlington, admitted sexual assault of the first girl and meeting a child following sexual grooming in relation to the second.

He was jailed for four-and-a-half years, must sign the sex offenders’ register for life and was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

Locking him up, Judge Amanda Rippon said about the first victim: “There were child locks on the car and you must have known she couldn’t get out.

“She kept saying she didn’t want to.

“This was a sustained incident at a time when she was trapped in a car with you.”

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