A YOUNG man from Colne has walked free from court after pursuing a schoolgirl on Facebook and trying to “seduce” her.
Neil Hurley (27) committed indecent acts on the 14-year-old, and the pair almost had sex at his home while his partner, the mother of his child, was at work.
The father-of-two, of North Street, admitted three counts of sexual activity with a child. He received three years’ supervision, with the community sex offenders’ programme and must pay £250 costs.
He was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for five years and was given a 10 year sexual offences prevention order. Hurley had no previous convictions.
Miss Rachel Wood (prosecuting), said at the time the defendant was 25. The girl posted a comment on her Facebook page, inviting people to respond if they fancied her and to send a one-to-one message if they wanted a relationship. The defendant sent a one-to-one message
In January 2011, the defendant contacted the girl again using the chat facility, so they could talk directly over the internet. He said he thought she was attractive and asked her if she thought he was.
Miss Wood said Hurley got the girl’s mobile phone number from Facebook, began texting her and pursued her, persuading her to become involved in what rapidly became a sexual relationship.
A number of people saw text messages, including her parents and friend. Hurley sent the teenager pictures of himself, including one of his private parts and she sent him photos of herself partially undressed.
The pair met nine or 10 times and Hurley fondled her and committed a sex act on her. On occasions, the girl had decided she wanted to stop seeing the defendant, but he persuaded her to carry on.
Miss Wood said in September last year, the teenager went to Hurley’s home while his partner was at work and the girl was to tell police she knew they would do more than they had ever done before.
Hurley initiated sexual contact, undressed the girl down to her knickers and socks, committed a sex act and he undressed. They did not have sex, but they nearly did.
She said he had told her he loved her and wanted to show her how much. The defendant was disturbed by his partner returning home and banging on the door to be let in the house.
The schoolgirl ran away, stayed away from home all night and her parents reported her missing. She was later found, disclosed what had happened to her and was interviewed by police on September 10th.
The hearing was told the defendant was arrested, and other than confirming his telephone number, he made no comment. He was later charged and made no reply.
Joanna Rodikis (defending) said he had genuine affection for the girl. He had been with his partner six years, and they would say the experience had brought them closer together and they now had a baby son.
At the time, the defendant’s partner had been working long hours, they were perhaps drifting apart and he was perhaps living a more single man’s lifestyle. His father had died in July 2010 and he had not been behaving like he normally would.
She said: “He is a young man who has thus far never found himself before a criminal court of any kind.”
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson told the defendant : “You were plainly making the running and certainly encouraging her substantially.
“Were I to send you to custody it’s likely you would lose your accommodation and it’s likely you would lose your employment and these are described in the pre-sentence report as factors which provide stability and a level of protection.”