A Lincolnshire man has been jailed for grooming a schoolgirl online, convincing her to send him intimate photos before later engaging in sexual activity with her.
Matthew Twitchen, 38, told his victim, who has lifelong anonymity and should not be identified, that he was 18, when he was actually in his 30s.
The teenager was just 14 when he began to groom her online. He convinced her to send him intimate photos before asking to meet her in Gateshead.
He took her to a car park where he told her he loved her before engaging in sexual activity.
A concerned school friend, who had seen pictures of Twitchen, didn’t believe he was of teen age and told a teacher her fears. The school swiftly contacted police and the victim’s mother.
Police arrested Twitchen at his home address in Boston before he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court last week.
Twitchen pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child, two cases of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child following sexual grooming.
He was sentenced to five years in jail, given an Indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order and put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
Ross Atkinson, Detective Constable at Northumbria Police, said: “The victim’s friend recognised that her friend was being groomed and she showed immense courage by coming forward and disclosing her concerns to a teacher.
“I would encourage anyone who might find themselves in a similar position, concerned about a friend and fearful they are being groomed, to always tell a trusted adult – a parent, teacher or police officer.
“I would also like to praise the victim and her family, for their bravery throughout the course of the investigation and court proceedings.
“I hope the victim, her family and her friend can take comfort knowing they have helped put a predatory paedophile in prison.
“I encourage anyone out there who may think their friend or loved one is in a similar position to please report it. Every report will be taken seriously, treated with the utmost compassion and you will be fully supported.”