January 2019

“Arrogant” paedophile who groomed girl, aged 12, is jailed

A North Yorkshire man who groomed a 12-year-old girl before having a sexual relationship with her has been jailed for more than five years.

The 39-year-old man from Northallerton appeared at Teesside Crown Court and pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault of a child on Friday.

Mark Johnson (pictured) began to groom the victim when she was 12. When she turned 13, he began a sexual relationship with her.

The police became aware of the offences in September 2018 when Johnson’s estranged wife found messages on his phone which suggested that he was having a sexual relationship with the girl.

His wife confronted Johnson about the messages and told him she was contacting the police.

Johnson immediately wiped the handset and visited a local phone store where he exchanged his device in an attempt to cover his tracks.

He was arrested and during his interview under caution he presented a prepared statement in which he denied engaging in sexual activity with the victim or exchanging messages with her.

He claimed that the victim was obsessed with him.

Johnson was charged and remanded in custody.

North Yorkshire Police’s Digital Forensic Unit and Force Intelligence analyst examined the telephone and found overwhelming evidence in the form of messages which confirmed that Johnson was having a sexual relationship with the victim.

Johnson entered an early guilty plea when the case reached court.

He was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment and received an indefinite sexual harm-prevention court order.

The terms of the order mean he has to tell police about his whereabouts, such as any holidays or house moves, and if he stays in a house where children live.

He will also have to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for the rest of his life.