A man who repeatedly had sex with a teenage schoolgirl was handed a one year sentence today (Monday).
Ordering 30-year-old Liam Thornbury to spend half his sentence in jail and half on supervised licence, Craigavon Crown Court Judge Patrick Lynch QC said while he accepted the defendant “is not a predator in the classic sense,” he had nevertheless less “made the deliberate decision” to have sex with the 15-year-old.
In addition to the jail sentence Thornbury, from Lakelands in Craigavon, was ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for ten years while prosecution counsel Ian Tannahill told the court he would be seeking a Sexual Offences Prevention Order at a later date.
Previously, Thornbury had entered guilty pleas to three counts of sexual activity involving penetration and three counts of sexual communication with a child in order to obtain sexual gratification, all committed during November 2015.
The court heard how Thornbury began sending messages to the teenager through social media, continuing to send messages including sexually explicit texts, despite knowing she was only 15-years-old.
At one stage, the girl told him that she “looked about 12” as she has no make up on but Thornbury asked her if she was still in her uniform and when she confirmed she was, told her “it would be so hot to f*** a schoolgirl.”
Mr Tannahill said the offences of sexual activity with a child referred to three specific instances when Thornbury had sexual intercourse with the girl while the sexual communication offences related to messages exchanged between them.
Those related to her sending Thornbury two nude images of herself and him sending her a picture of his penis.
Defence QC Peter Irvine had argued that due to the Thornbury having Aspergers Syndrome, the length of time the case took to come to court, his guilty pleas and clear record, the judge could treat the case as being exceptional and not send the defendant to immediate custody.
Jailing Thornbury today however, Judge Lynch said the case was not exceptional as he had known the victim’s age, he arranged to see her on repeated occasions and had continued to communicate with her, all in circumstances where “there was no reason whatsoever why he shouldn’t walk away from the situation.”
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