January 2023

Text groomer sent on sex offenders’ treatment programme

A pervert who badgered and harassed a 15-year-old girl into having underage sex has been sent on a sex offenders’ course.

Jack Hodges had sex with the schoolgirl twice while she was having sleepovers with a friend when he was staying overnight at the same house in a village in Teignbridge area.

He had spent weeks grooming her with a stream of sexual messages and had persisted despite her making it clear she did not want to receive them.

He tried to lie his way out of trouble when he was caught by telling the girl’s mother that she had a schoolgirl crush on him and was making it up.

His abuse caused the victim such serious psychological harm that she had tried to take her own life and is being treated for post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Police recovered scores of messages which proved she was telling the truth.

He carried on denying what he had done and said the texts were jokes, but a jury at Exeter Crown Court convicted him in November.

Hodges, aged 24, of Membury Close, Exeter, denied sexual communications with a child and two counts of sexual activity with a child but was found guilty.

He was jailed for two years, suspended for two years, ordered to attend the 35 session Horizon sex offenders’ treatment programme and do 40 days of rehabilitation activities and 150 hours of unpaid community work by Judge David Evans.

He was put on the sex offenders register and ordered to pay £3,000 compensation and £1,000 costs.

Judge Evans told him: ‘You are the only one to blame for all this and it is bone-headed to think otherwise. You deliberately used psychological pressure at a time when she was at a low.

You badgered her and wore her down with your unwanted persistence, trying to calm her concerns even to the extent of supplying excuses she could deploy if she came under suspicion.

‘It is appropriate to suspend the sentence so you have to do the hard work of looking inside yourself and eventually admitting what you did and tackling the attitudes that led you to do it, rather than sitting in a cell.’

Miss Mary McCarthy, prosecuting, told the jury at the trial that Hodges started communicating with the girl when she was 14 and met him while visiting another schoolgirl’s home in a village in Teignbridge.

He did not live there but spent a lot of time there, often staying the night in his own room. The girl also had sleepovers at her friend’s house.

He was 20 at the time of the sexual activity during the 2019 summer holidays and September. One of his early messages, sent before she turned 15, said ‘shame you are 14’.

Miss McCarthy said other messages sent when she was 15 shoed him asking her to give him oral sex.

Her replies suggested she felt awkward and initially laughed it off but later took part in sexual acts with him.

She said: ‘He repeatedly asked her to come to his room or to come to the house and the time came when she did go to his room.

She told police they watched television and he started to pull at her clothing 

‘He was quite determined there was going to be sexual activity and started kissing her and pulling down her clothes.’

Miss McCarthy said it progressed to full intercourse and that he continued pressing her to come over and they had sex on a second occasion.

The police were called after the girl’s mother found Hodges’s messages on her daughter’s iPad.

Hodges accepted sending the messages but denied that the girl had ever been to the bedroom where he was staying.

He said the sexual references were ‘just jokey’ and were not discussions of what he had done.

Asked about one message to the girl which read ‘come back and let me **** you’, he replied ‘I had a lot to drink, it was a joke. We had not had sex and she knew it was a joke.’