Manchester

Man jailed for sexual activity with girl, 12, who he thought was 19

Carl Hodgson Image copyright GMP
Image caption Carl Hodgson pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity

A man who spent the night with a 12-year-old girl who he thought was 19 has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Carl Hodgson invited the child, who he made contact with on a dating app, to his flat and sent images of her in a body stocking to a friend via WhatsApp.

Manchester Crown Court was told he filmed the girl on his phone and also pleasured himself while she looked on.

Hodgson, 28, of Jordan Street, Manchester, was ordered to sign the sex offender register for life.

He had pleaded guilty earlier to causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

He also admitted engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, distributing an indecent photograph of a child and making indecent photographs of a child.

'Bravado and bragging'

After the girl went missing from home in February 2018, her family found Instagram messages from Hodgson on her phone and alerted police.

The court heard they had first made contact via a popular adult dating app where the victim used a different name on her profile and falsely stated she was 19.

After inviting her to his flat, Hodgson took pictures of the child in his bedroom, boasting about what happened in a message to a friend.

His barrister, Alexander Leach, said it was "simply male bravado and bragging" and he had not had sex with the girl.

Mr Leach said Hodgson "must have known she was significantly younger than him" but believed her to be older than 16.

The Crown offered no evidence against a charge of rape and Judge David Stockdale QC ordered a formal not guilty verdict be returned.

No evidence was also offered against counts of grooming and child abduction.

Judge Stockdale said he was satisfied Hodgson's remorse and regret was genuine.

He said the girl was shown to be in a "withdrawn state" and unable or unwilling to communicate.

The judge told Hodgson the victim was "by reason of her age highly vulnerable to exploitation and she was no doubt impressed by you."

He said he had taken into account that Hodgson "thought, and on reasonable grounds, that she was over 16" but it was "most serious offending".

Under the law there is no defence of mistaken reasonable belief in age when a sex offence complainant is under 13.

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