Flint man groomed teenage girl in online messages

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Court Reporter

A MAN who “fancied” a teenage schoolgirl contacted her via Facebook and arranged to meet her twice.

Mold Crown Court heard how the meetings did not take place.

Defendant Ricky Martin Bradley, 26, of Cwrt yr Ysgol, Prince of Wales Avenue, Flint, admitted arranging to meet a child after sexual grooming.

He received a suspended prison sentence but was warned by a judge that he did not appear to appreciate how serious his behaviour had been.

Judge David Hale said he was worried by some of Bradley’s comments in his pre-sentence report.

“You think everyone has overreacted to what you have done. We have not. You underreacted,” the judge told him.

His victim was a vulnerable young girl aged 14 who had a difficult life.

“You obviously fancied that young girl,” he said.

But it was true that the messages that he posted to her on Facebook did not contain the aggravating features which were usually seen in such cases.

He had not posted any pornographic material and there was no request for her to expose herself in any way, which would be reflected in the sentence he would receive.

“Twice you tried to persuade her to meet you,” said Judge Hale.

“It was not with a view expressed for sex at the time but for cuddles. But it would have been totally inappropriate and who knows where it might have led.

“You were very, very stupid and you have caused her a lot of harm.”

Bradley received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years with 40 days’ rehabilitation. If suitable, he must follow a programme run by the probation service.

He was ordered to register with the police as a sex offender for 10 years, and a five-year sexual harm prevention order was made.

A restraining order under which he must not approach the victim was made for two years.

Prosecuting barrister Anna Pope said that the defendant became a Facebook friend with the girl, who he knew, and offered to cuddle her to warm her up.

He sent a picture of a couple kissing, asked if she wanted a kiss and said she needed a boyfriend,

Bradley said it would not be right if they kissed – but then asked if it would be right if they did.

He asked if she wanted more, offered her a back massage and said that he had a funny feeling that they would both kiss each other after a cuddle.

Miss Pope said that he claimed they would make a lovely couple.

Arrangements to meet were made twice but meetings did not take place and afterwards he referred to his sexual arousal and asked her what she would do about it.

He said they should not have sex unless she wanted to try. She replied that she did not want to go that far.

The judge stressed that the first mention of sex was after arrangements to meet had been made but that the meetings did not take place.

Miss Pope said the girl’s mother got to know of the messages which ran for a three-month period up to Christmas and the police were informed.

Arrested and interviewed in January he agreed that they exchanged messages and he said he was trying to build her confidence up.

Asked about the sexualised message, he initially blamed work colleagues – but then accepted he was responsible.

When police asked him what his intentions were if they did meet, he said “just probably a quick cuddle”.

The girl had told how she felt worried, it had affected her schoolwork and it had caused problems in her personal life.

Judge Hale said that she was “emotionally frail” at the time.

Bradley, a man of no previous convictions, had sought to minimise what he had done when interviewed by the probation service, he said.

Defending barrister Philip Clemo described the pre-sentence report as “a mixed bag “and said there was an element of a lack of understanding of the seriousness of what he had done.

But the programme suggested by the probation service would go a long way towards resolving those issues, he said.

He had been dismissed from his job when the matters came to light but he had a good work ethic and now worked in a factory assembling wheelchairs and other products.

His employers were aware of his position and were supportive, said Mr Clemo.

The case lacked many of the aggravating features of such offences, he said.

See full story in the Leader

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