August 2018

Married man treated underage girl as his ‘sexual play thing’

A Married man “deluded” himself that he was in a sexual relationship with an underage girl for several months, a court heard.

But a judge told Matthew Brown that, in reality, he groomed the vulnerable girl, and used alcohol and drugs as a means of winning her compliance.

Durham Crown Court was told that when she began to have misgivings and told her parents he assaulted her and then threw away her mobile phone when she told him she was ringing the police over his activities.

Brown was said to have made contact with the girl through social media, and within a short time he was sending her messages telling her he would, “never let her go” and she could, “never have anyone else, but him.”

Oliver Thorne, prosecuting, said they began to meet regularly for sexual encounters, often at his caravan and in local hotels, as well as at homes of family members when they were not present.

Mr Thorne said Brown encouraged ger to take drugs and alcohol with him almost every night.

Police were eventually informed and Brown was arrested in late April, but he gave a false account of what had taken place.

Eventually, however, he admitted having had sex with the girl, but initially claimed she had blackmailed him to carry it on.

Appearing at a plea hearing, in June, however, the 28-year-old defendant, of Hill Crest, Newfield, near Willington, admitted four counts of sexual activity with a child, plus common assault, theft of her phone, and possession of a class B drug.

Jailing him for eight years, Judge Jonathan Carroll told Brown: “She was a particularly vulnerable young girl due to mental health and behavioural issues.

“Despite those difficulties, she was a child and, sometimes children need protection from themselves.

“In every possible way, you failed with that, putting your own selfish desires uppermost in your mind, exploiting her as your own sexual play thing, to be used and discarded as you saw fit.”

The judge made him subject to a restraining order, a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and registration as a sex offender, all indefinitely.