AN IRATE stepfather stormed out of court after a young man, who had sex with his underage stepdaughter, escaped a prison sentence.
Jack Cross of Westlea Road, Leamington, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of sexual activity with a child.
The 19-year-old was given a 12-month community order, with 80 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation activity for 25 days, ordered to register as a sex offender for five years and to pay £700 in costs.
Cross and the girl had arranged to meet after chatting on social media in 2017. He then began continually asking her for sex, despite knowing she was only 15. In the end she agreed after which, three occasions including sexual activity between them, followed.
The first took place at the girl’s home while her mother was out, and they had intercourse in her bedroom after Cross had persistently asked her to do so. On the second occasion he pulled her trousers down and performed oral sex on her in the living room at her home, and on a further occasion they again had intercourse.
Subsequently, he girl was spoken to by a teacher over rumours she might be pregnant, although she was not, even though Cross had not worn a condom.
When he was arrested Cross, who accepted he knew she was only 15, said he remembered having sex with her twice – but claimed the first time she had instigated it.
Prosecutor Peter Cooper pointed out in a statement the girl said she suffered flashbacks and felt suicidal over what happened, and ‘would go to a train station and hope that a train came,’ and ‘sometimes sat down with a knife’. Recorder Charles Falk added: “I have read her victim impact statement, and it makes grim reading.”
Amy Jackson, defending, said: “He accepts he had come to realise before the sexual activity occurred that she was under 16. He accepts this was an illegal activity.” Although she observed there was not a ‘significant disparity in age’.
She added: “He accepts he repeatedly asked, but did not at any stage intend to force her to do something she didn’t want to do.”
Miss Jackson suggested the option of one-to-one working on sexual offending with Cross, either under a suspended sentence or a community order, was a ‘sensible proposal’ and explained because of ‘harassment and threats against him,’ Cross and his family had left the area.
Sentencing Cross, Recorder Falk told him: “You are now a young man of 19, two weeks off from your 20th birthday. These offences all took place in 2017.
“It is important for you to understand that the law draws a line on a young person’s 16th birthday, and you fell on the wrong side of it. You were well aware of what you were doing, but you continued to go ahead.
“What you need to understand is that children have a right to be protected. That is why the law is there, and the law expects other people to accept those boundaries.
“You were still a young person yourself, and not yet an adult in the eyes of the law. But as the older participant, you should have shown responsibility, but you sought to persuade and cajole and inveigle her to take part in sexual intercourse.”
The judge observed there had been ‘considerable delay’ in the case being dealt with – because Cross had faced trial on ‘a more serious matter you were acquitted of,’ and he had to sentence him as he would have done at the time.