Sept 2010

Man jailed for sex with girl, 14

A 22-YEAR-OLD father from Chelmsford who chatted up a 14-year-old girl in her school uniform at the newsagents where he worked and went on to groom her on Facebook before having sex with her, has been jailed for two years.

Andrew Squirrell, of Dorset Avenue, Chelmsford, admitted sexual activity with a child after she “skipped” school and went with him to his home, before undressing and going to his bedroom, Chelmsford Crown Court was told.

Later, “sexually explicit conversations” between them on Facebook were found to have taken place, although her entries had been deleted, the court was told.

Jailing Squirrell, Judge David Goodin told him: “You have pleaded guilty to a very serious offence. You were sexually experienced, with a partner and the father of a two-year-old. You knew what you were about.

“You worked in a shop, coming into contact with young customers.

“There’s nothing to suggest you’re a predatory sexual individual, but I am entirely satisfied you saw an opportunity and effectively groomed or cultivated a relationship with a girl knowing her age.

“Legislation is there to protect young people from abuse and also from themselves.”

Lesli Sternberg, prosecuting, said Squirrel, who worked in Angels Newsagents, Broomfield, Chelmsford, was 21 when he met the victim at the store and exchanged telephone numbers “resulting in further contact”.

He added: “They met further times in the store and exchanged texts and phone calls and arranged a meeting in July last year. The victim skipped school, met with the defendant and was taken to his address, where he lived with his girlfriend.

“They sat and talked for a while in the front room, kissing and cuddling. Clothes were taken off in the sitting room before moving to the bed.

“Scared, she did not say ‘no’ and he touched her before taking off her jeans, fondling her breast and having sex.”

Later her elder sister saw her in a “confused” state with the defendant.

Facebook conversations had taken place between them which were sexually explicit, although her comments had been deleted the court was told.

Mr Sternberg added: “There was an element of grooming leading up to the events, and it happened within a few months of meeting.

Emma Davenport, mitigating, said: “The relationship built up over a number of weeks after they came into contact in the shop while she was a customer.

“He expresses remorse and he does suffer some form of mental illness, having made suicide attempts previously.”