June 2020

Man who groomed girl, 11, jailed again for staying overnight at children’s house

A convicted paedophile who once groomed an 11-year-old girl has been sent to prison after breaching a sexual harm prevention order.

Ashley Gardiner, of Swallow Close in Birchwood, spent two nights at a friend’s house where there were two children, aged 10 and 15, present.

The woman did not know about Gardiner’s previous conviction but he was never left alone with the children.

After staying over at the house for two nights, the 30-year-old told the woman that he had been to prison after ‘being set up on Facebook’ but would not go into details.

Social services became aware of the visits and Gardiner was arrested a few days later.

In a police interview, he said: “I know I’ve done wrong,” and was ‘well aware’ of the limitations imposed in the previous order.

This also breached lockdown rules.

Simon Duncan, prosecuting, said: “Gardiner had split up from his partner for a short while and in this time he found comfort in his friendship with the woman.

Gardiner, who groomed an 11-year-old girl in 2014 breached this suspended sentence by sexually assaulting a man in 2016.

Sentencing Gardiner to 16 months in prison, judge Murray said: “You did not tell the woman of you previous sexual offending when you stayed for two nights after leaving your partner.

“You told her that you had been wrongly convicted.

“This risked very serious harm to those children.

“You have a history of court order disobedience.”

In 2014, Gardiner was handed a suspended sentence after he groomed a girl via Facebook.

The girl was under the impression that Gardiner was a family friend.

The court heard how over the next 13 months, the conversation turned sexually explicit with Gardiner sending her a graphic image.

He urged the victim, who is believed to suffer from mental health problems, to send him a picture ‘in similar vein’.

The victim sent a photograph of herself wearing a bra but this did not satisfy the defendant who continued to push for her to reveal more.

It was only when the victim asked for Gardiner to send a photograph of his face that she realised he was not a family friend and he was reported to the police.