Barnoldswick man jailed for sex with Colne girl (14)

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.

A Barnoldswick pervert branded a danger to the public by a judge has been jailed for having sex with a “vulnerable” Colne girl.

John Whitehouse (40), of Gisburn Road, Barnoldswick, was jailed for five years and given four years extended licence at Burnley Crown Court after chatting and grooming the 14-year-old girl from Colne, first through a mobile phone app, and then over the internet.

Whitehouse then had sex with the teenager numerous times during a three-week period in February.

Whitehouse admitted eight counts of sexual activity with a child. He had no previous convictions for sexual offences but was on police bail for allegedly grooming a 12-year-old girl.

Burnley Crown Court heard the two began chatting on the internet and Whitehouse had offered a shoulder to cry on for the girl, who was experiencing problems at school and at home.

The pair first had sex at the girl’s house after she had been sent home from school ill. Whitehouse and the girl had sex twice in a wooded area of Alkincoats Park while another occasion of sexual activity occurred in a bus shelter in Foulridge.

Nicholas Courtney (prosecuting) said Whitehouse had been made well aware by the girl she was only 14 but he did not initially tell her his age. He did say, however, that he understood her problems.

On the day the girl had been sent home from school, Whitehouse contacted her and asked to go to her home, the court heard. Mr Courtney said Whitehouse told the girl “it would be ok, nobody would know”.

Mr Courtney told the court Whitehouse bought the girl a Valentine card, a locket and bra and offered to buy her a new mobile phone.

On his arrest, initially for rape, the first thing he said to police was “Is this a joke?”

He told police he had bought the card to cheer her up, had met her once and no sexual activity had taken place. He continued this stance until he was presented with forensic evidence by police.

Philip Holden (defending) said Whitehouse had considered self harm and was willing to undertake sex offenders’ courses. He added: “These offences, however abhorrent to many, were consensual in nature”.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Newell, said: “You knew she was 14, you were 40 years of age at the time. You had your own family. You should have known better.”

Judge Newell added the fact Whitehouse had been prepared to buy the girl a phone could be “no more obvious work of planning and premeditation”.

Whitehouse was also ordered to sign the sexual offenders’ register for life, got an infefinite sexual offences prevention order and was banned from working with children for life.