June 2007

Man jailed for sex with a 15-year-old

A YOUNG man who had sex with a 15-year-old girl was yesterday jailed for 20 months.

Andrew Howard had drunk three bottles of cheap wine when he and his friends met a group of girls in a car park known as The Batts, in Bondgate, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, on the evening of October 23, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard that while his friends took two of the girls for a drive, Howard was heard asking the girl: “Are you game? Are you up for it?”.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said: “She followed him down an embankment.

“The Crown would say it was in the mistaken belief it wasn’t for an act of intercourse, but probably that there would be some sort of sexual activity.”

Mr Dodds said during the act, she became upset and pushed him away.

Howard stood up and walked back to the car park, while the girl later broke down in front of friends and was led to a police vehicle by concerned onlookers.

Mr Dodds said it appeared to have been her first experience of sexual intercourse.

When questioned, 21-year-old Howard said he thought the girl was aged 17, and claimed she consented.

Mark Styles, mitigating, handed the court character testimonials and described Howard as, “a well thought of young lad with a long-standing girlfriend of four years, from a supportive family”

He said: “He’s remorseful for what happened, but it’s quite clear he had far too much to drink that night and it got the better of him.”

Howard, of McCullagh Gardens, Bishop Auckland, admitted sexual activity with a girl aged under 16.

Jailing him, Judge Beatrice Bolton said: “It’s clear you were in drink and you were assertive and, in my judgement, somewhat forceful.”

Judge Bolton imposed a sexual offenders’ prevention order restricting his future contact with under-16s and he must must also sign the sex offenders’ register for ten years.