November 2013

Sunderland man abused schoolgirls because he had low self-esteem, court told

A Nissan worker sexually abused two teenage girls because he had “low self-esteem”, a court heard.

Andrew Long, 19, intimately touched the girls aged 13 and 14 at Puma Park Tennis Centre in Silksworth last year after he was “flattered” when they showed interest in him.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Long, who was 18 at the time of the offences, would buy alcohol for the teenagers, who would gather to watch him freerunning – a form of outdoor acrobatics – at the park.

The court was told the sexual activity was consensual.

Katherine Dunn, prosecuting, said Long, of Premier Road, Plains Farm, had lied about his age when confronted by one of the girls’ fathers, claiming to be 16.

When challenged he admitted to the man that he was 18 and started crying.

Miss Dunn told the court that Long was aware of the girls’ ages and spoke of the detrimental effect the offences had on the teenagers.

She said: “It’s led to arguments within the family home, she gets upset when her family tried to discuss this with her.”

Miss Dunn continued that the second girl stopped going to the park in case she saw the defendant again.

“She has lost weight, she is stressed and it has had an impact on her schooling,” she added.

The court heard that the encounter with one of the girls took place in the play area of the park.

Long also befriended one of the teens on Facebook and asked her to strip – but she refused.

He was arrested on November 19 last year.

Glenn Gatland, defending, said: “He was a young man who had low self-esteem.

“He has been bullied in the past and he never felt attractive to girls.

“He was flattered when the two girls showed an interest in him which may explain his loss of control.”

Judge Roger Thorn QC called the mitigation “compelling” but said: “The fact of the matter is these children were, of course, both too young in fact and in law to give consent.”

Long pleaded guilty to two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was given a community order with supervision for three years and a sexual offences prevention order for five years.

He was also ordered to sign the sexual offenders’ register for five years.