Febuary 2012

Man jailed for sex with schoolgirl branded ‘every parent’s nightmare’

A MAN jailed for having sex with a schoolgirl while his partner was on holiday was branded “every parent’s nightmare” by the officer who put him behind bars.

Paul Rickinson, 44, was still protesting his innocence as he was jailed yesterday – claiming the teenager “made all the running”.

He still denies knowing how old she was, but Teesside Crown Court heard during his trial that he sent her a birthday card referring to her age.

Rickinson, who worked as an animal refuge volunteer, was also repeatedly told – by the girl and a mutual friend aware of their close relationship – that she was under-age.

He was convicted of two charges of sexual activity with a child after a three-day trial last month and the case was adjourned for reports.

Yesterday, Judge Tony Briggs jailed him for two years, after telling him: “The aggravating feature in this particular case is the age disparity between you and the child.”

Rickinson, of Malvern Crescent, Darlington, was put on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and banned from working with children.

His barrister, Victoria Lamballe, said: “Even if she did make all the running, the defendant was an adult and he should have been able to resist the advances of that young woman. He is more like a pathetic 40-something who was unable to resist.”

The court heard Rickinson told the girl to delete text messages from him and to get rid of evidence of their contact on Facebook, but denied it was for sinister reasons.

Rickinson told the jury during his trial that he twice asked the girl her age and she had replied she was 16.

Speaking afterwards, Detective Sergeant Jim Cunningham, of Darlington police, branded Rickinson as “one of the worst kinds of sexual predators – the sort every family fears.

“He actively sought to gain this girl’s affection and confidence, using Facebook and her mobile telephone, even trying to turn her against her friends and family.

“He waited until his partner was away before he lured her to his flat and, once he had taken advantage of her, he did everything to make everyone believe he was the victim.

Even now, he does not have the courage or decency to take responsibility for his actions.

“The police would like to advise all young ladies that if an older man starts to make you feel uncomfortable, then please tell either your parents or teachers, or contact the police.”