June 2008

Man, 34, groomed girl, 13, for hotel sex

A MATURE student who met a 13-year-old girl in an internet chatroom and took her to a hotel to have sex, has walked free from court.

Campaigners last night issued a warning to parents after John Allan, 34, was given a suspended prison sentence for sexual activity with a child.

He was originally accused of abducting and raping the girl after grooming her in the chatroom, but the charges were dropped.

A court heard yesterday that the Teesside student arranged to meet the girl in Darlington and took her to a nearby hotel, which had no vacancies

Allan took her to another hotel and got a room after telling concerned staff she was his sister, said Richard Bennett, prosecuting.

The couple were in the room for half-an-hour, during which time Allan tried to have sex with the girl, but was unsuccessful, Judge Brian Forster, was told.

She later went to a friend’s home and admitted what she had done, and continued to send and receive text messages from Allan.

Mr Bennett said Allan asked her if she would join another girl for sex with him, but when he learnt she had told friends, he said: “It has to stop.”

Allan told police the girl told him she was 18, adding: “As soon as I realised she was younger, nowt happened. I feel sick.

The court heard a police surgeon said the girl’s body was immature and could not be mistaken for someone 16 or older.

Ian West, mitigating, said the civil engineering student at the University of Teesside, should have stopped as soon as he realised the girl was young.

Allan, of Kirknewton Road, Normanby, Middlesbrough, was given a nine-month suspended prison sentence, with two years supervision.

Judge Forster told him he accepted he did not know the girl was underage until they met.

Mr West said: “He made a mistake, a big mistake, in going ahead with the sexual encounter with this girl when – if he had other people’s eyes – he would have realised she was not as old as she claimed to be.”

Allan was also ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and was banned for life from working with children.

Wendy Shepherd, children’s services manager for Barnardo’s on Teesside, said after the case: “Sadly, there is a downside to the internet which can place young people at risk and parents need to be vigilant about the potential problems.”