January 2012

Pervert is jailed for grooming schoolgirl

A PERVERT who groomed a primary school girl on the internet is today behind bars.

Twisted Paul Leonard befriended the girl on Facebook and started sending her disgusting messages.

The young victim’s mother saw the kind of messages Leonard had been sending her daughter, told him to stop and informed police.

Leonard was originally charged with various sexual offences against the girl but jurors failed to reach verdicts and prosecutors decided not to seek a retrial.

However Leonard, 49, of Byker, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to meeting a child following sexual grooming.

Locking him up for 15 months, Judge Michael Cartlidge, at Newcastle Crown Court, said: “The crux of the case is the defendant engaged with the girl in conversation on the internet which included plainly sexual conversation. The fact which stands out is that the girl was so young.”

The court heard the grooming came to light when the girl’s mother came across a Facebook conversation between her daughter and Leonard.

In the exchange, Leonard told the girl “I love being with you” and made inappropriate comments about what clothing he liked her to wear.

In an effort to keep what was happening a secret, Leonard sent her another message saying “when we finish chatting remember to clear it”, meaning she should leave no record of the conversation on her computer.

He then went on to tell the youngster he would have to end the conversation when his wife got up.

He adds: “I’ll be your secret. I don’t want you get a boyfriend. I want you forever.”

Near the end of that conversation, which happened in January last year, the victim’s mother was horrified to see what Leonard had been saying.

She sent him a message saying “Please don’t chat like that with my daughter”, then contacted police.

The girl told officers Leonard had contacted her on Facebook lots of times and said he had tried to kiss her on the lips.

As well as the prison term, Leonard must sign the sex offender register for 10 years and was made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Anne Richardson, defending, said: “The victim’s mother dealt with it in a low key manner which prevented her daughter getting upset, which was a magnificent effort.

“Not even he knows what was in his mind or what his intentions were.”