May 2022

Pervert groomed schoolgirl for sex

A man who sent hundreds of messages to a schoolgirl he groomed and had sex with has been handed a 20-month sentence.

Tiernan Padhraig Lawless was warned by the victim’s mother to stay away from her daughter — but he persisted in his pursuit of the 14-year-old.

The 20-year-old creep must serve eight months of his sentence behind bars with the rest on licence.

Lawless, from Mourne Park in Castlewellan, had already pleaded guilty to sexual grooming and other sex crimes committed against more than one girl back in November 2020.

A previous hearing was told how Lawless exchanged text and social media messages with one teen, as well as bombarding her with FaceTime calls.

She later met Lawless in a park in Castlewellan, along with another girl, telling her parents she was staying with a friend.

Initially denying any sexual contact, the 14-year-old later admitted to her mum she had unprotected sex.

Downpatrick Crown Court was told Lawless “doesn’t shy away from the fact that he put his own sexual desires before the vulnerability” of the victim.

And even though he knew her age he “continued to encourage her to engage with him.”

Aggravating factors in the case included Lawless giving the girls alcohol, and failing to take heed of the warning to stay away.

As well as jail, Lawless will have to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and was made the subject of a five-year sexual offences prevention order.