September 2023

Academic facing prison after admitting grooming girl, 13

An academic has been remanded in custody prior to an “inevitable” prison sentence after he admitted exchanging messages with a 13-year-old girl on the autistic spectrum

Sitikantha Mohanty was aged 48 when he began communicating with the girl, who was described as, “particularly vulnerable” at the time due to her recent diagnosis of autism.

Durham Crown Court heard that over a period of only four days in June last year, 1,251 messages were exchanged between the pair, most sent from the defendant

The court was told they included requests for pictures of the girl, one “begging” her, plus a request that she could call him her, “older boyfriend”.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said it would appear most of the messages were from the defendant to the girl, who told him to, “stop scaring her”, having made it clear to him how old she was at the time.

She also turned down a request to give him a hug if they met, telling him he was “creepy”.

Miss Waugh said Mohanty’s messaging of the girl was, “a persistent, ongoing targeting of her over two weeks.”

The now 50-year-old defendant, formerly of South Street, Spennymoor, denied a charge of arranging to meet a child following grooming when he appeared at a plea hearing at the court in February.

A trial date was fixed, pencilled in to start next Monday ((September 4) at the court.

But the case came back before the court, when Mohanty’s counsel, Tony Davis, asked that the charge be put to his client again.

Mohanty this time pleaded guilty 

The judge told Mohanty: “You have now pleaded guilty to a serious offence and I’ll adjourn sentence to October 6, but, in the meantime, you will be remanded in custody.”

He was also made subject of notification requirements now as a convicted sex offender, but those terms will be outlined and the length confirmed at the sentencing hearing.