A PAEDOPHILE who groomed a 14-year-old girl on the internet and sent a flurry of explicit texts has been jailed.
Christopher Curtis, 35, yesterday sobbed in the dock as he was sentenced for engaging in sexual activity with a child.
He had earlier admitted two counts of being an adult meeting a girl under the age of 16 with the intention of committing a sexual offence.
Curtis, of Westcliff, committed the offences between February 18 and 25 last year.
His family all sat in court to support him and some cried when he was jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Carolyn Gardiner, prosecuting, said Curtis had sent at least 280 texts to the victim, after they met on social networking site Net Log.
After chatting the teen up online, he got her mobile number and started texting and calling almost every day.
The pair eventually met at the Downham Arms pub in London Road, Wickford, around February 26 last year.
Southend Crown Court heard Curtis drove the girl ten minutes away from the pub, before kissing her and sexually assaulting her in his car.
He then told her to perform a sex act on him.
Ms Gardiner said the explicit messages continued after the pair met, but on March 9 Curtis sent a text saying his girlfriend nearly left him after finding messages he had sent. Police arrested Curtis the following day after the victim’s mother found 280 texts on her daughter’s mobile phone.
She told police looking through and reading the messages made her feel “physically sick”.
Barbara Lockyear, mitigating, said: “He knows he has committed a very serious offence and when he looked at the material in the case he was shocked and disgusted with himself.”
She said the event coincided with Curtis being made redundant from a printing job and his grandmother dying.
She said he retrained as a HGV driver and former colleagues and friends, as well as his family, had written glowing references describing him as “gentle, sensitive and hard working”.
Judge Ian Graham said the texts showed he had “severe fantasies” and he only broke off the pursuit after his girlfriend confronted him.