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Man from Richmond was grooming young girls for sex, court told
A JUDGE told a court he would be failing in his public duty were he not to jail a man who was grooming young girls for sex.
Robert Woodhouse was on police bail when he contacted one teenager and continued to persist with his use of the social networking site Facebook, setting up a new account when police deactivated the old one.
Jailing him for two and-a-half years, Judge Michael Taylor told Woodhouse: “Public duty requires me to send out a message that this sort of behaviour will always be looked upon gravely by the courts.”
The 24-year-old defendant, of Coronation Place, Richmond, North Yorkshire, admitted inciting a 15-year-old child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence involving a 14-year-old.
Prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, Shaun Dodds said police were already investigating Woodhouse in connection with another suspected offence when they discovered incriminating texts on his mobile phone.
Woodhouse had made a 'friend request' via Facebook and had begun texting a young girl asking her to send him a picture of her naked.
Mr Dodds said: “There were continued texts during which there was reference to sexually explicit language.”
Woodhouse was bailed by police before committing his second offence. Again he contacted another different girl via Facebook and persisted with attempts to try and arrange a meeting with her, despite her saying she was only 14 and he was a stranger.
Uzma Khan, mitigating, said the defendant, who has an 18-month old child, was having difficulties in a relationship and reacted in a “highly inappropriate way”.
Ms Khan pointed to a pre-sentence report which suggested that he could undergo a sex offenders' treatment program, an opportunity he would not get if he were sent to prison.
But Judge Taylor rejected this suggestion and said he was disturbed by Woodhouse's persistence and the aggravating features of his case.
He told him: “You knew the ages of the girls you were contacting. Your behaviour was persistent and included exchanges which were very graphic.
“Young girls of that age should not be engaging in that sort of chit chat with men in their 20s.”
The judge made Woodhouse subject to a lifetime sexual offences prevention order which will prevent him from regularly accessing the internet and limit his contact with children aged under 16.
He had already signed on the sex offenders' register for the next ten years.