A HAIRDRESSER who had sex at his home with a 15-year-old boy he had met through a gay contact website has been jailed.
Darren George had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to taking part in sexual communication with the boy when he was 14 and sexual activity with him when he was 15.
The 48-year-old, from Leamington, was jailed for eight months after it was said the boy made much of the running, and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said the offences took place over a period of some ten weeks in 2017, after George began communicating with the boy on a gay contact website.
The site is specifically for adults, but George accepted in one of the many messages they exchanged, the boy asked him whether he minded he was 14.
George, who said he did not recall the message, continued to chat to the boy who would also ask him to buy tobacco and alcohol for him, which he accepted he did on occasions.
He entered his guilty pleas on the basis it was the boy who was taking the lead, contacting him most of the time, and he ‘bitterly regretted not being more attentive to the message’ about the boy’s age.
Mr Simpson said it was ‘quite clear’ from the messages the boy was the more active participant in the messaging.
Matters came to light when the boy was 15 following an argument with his mother who could smell cigarette smoke on him.
As punishment, she confiscated his phone, and on it she saw messages discussing the provision of cigarettes and alcohol by George and sexual activity taking place in return. She went to the police.
George was traced through the boy’s phone, and following his arrest he said he was gay and used the website to hook up with other men, and denied knowing the boy was under 16.
Jane Brady, defending, said: “It’s accepted by the Crown that the defendant did not set out to have sex with or groom a child. He was on an adult website legitimately, and he was also chatting to a lot of other men.”
Miss Brady pointed out the boy had said he would not support the prosecution, but George nevertheless pleaded guilty.
She added: “One cannot find a man who is more devastated and more genuinely remorseful for his actions.”
But jailing George, Judge Barry Berlin told him: “I accept you are remorseful. However, these are serious matters of sexual activity with a child.
“While you may initially have thought he was over 16, he made it clear, explaining his age and asking if there was any difficulty. It didn’t make any difference.
“While he was a willing participant, he was a child, and you took advantage of him. Only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.”