March 2019

Darlington man jailed for sex with underage girl

A CONVICTED sex offender who “lost everything” when his partner discovered his past is now behind bars after an anonymous phone call to the NSPCC revealed a second victim.

James Harcourt was given a community rehabilitation order in 2003 for having sex with an underage girl when he was 19.

Several years later, he started a relationship with a different underage girl – although no complaint was ever made to the police.

But in the summer of 2016, a call was made to the children’s charity expressing concerns about what had happened years earlier, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Harcourt, now 35, was said to have been violent and controlling when he was with the girl, who then learned about his earlier conviction.

The pair stopped seeing one another when Harcourt got jealous about the teenager being close to somebody else.

He moved on and started dating a work colleague, in her 40s, and they had two sons together, prosecutor Richard Bennett told the court.

But when she found out about his past with the teenager, she ended their relationship and social services cut off his contact with his children.

Harcourt, of Chandos Street, Darlington, admitted seven charges of sexual activity with a child, and was jailed for ten-and-a-half years.

Judge Sean Morris told him: “You were delaying your guilty plea for quite some time, and not accepting your guilt from the start just caused more heartache to your victim.

“The result of your actions means you have not seen your sons for a considerable amount of time. It is not just your life you have wrecked, it is those children.”