Judge's concern at under-age sex cases in Ceredigion
Concern over a number of men having sex with under-aged girls in Ceredigion has prompted a judge to speak out.
As Judge Paul Thomas QC jailed three men for sex offences, he said he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent if there was a "cult of offending".
He told Swansea Crown Court he was worried there was a growing culture where some men in part of the county used under-aged girls for sex.
"They are easy prey for unscrupulous men. It is sexual abuse," he said.
The judge sentenced Gethin Mitchell, 22, of Aberaeron, and Joe Charles Taylor, 23, of Lampeter, to two years and Evan Evans, 20, of Llanybydder, to 18 months.
They had admitted or been convicted of sexual activity with under-aged girls and causing one of them to engage in sexual activity with another man.
All three were ordered to register as sex offenders for 10 years, and banned from working with children for 10 years.
'Not emotionally mature'
James Jenkins, prosecuting, told the court that the joint charge of encouraging a girl to have sex with other men related to a 14-year-old girl.
On 9 May last year, she was driven to a car park near a school and "cajoled" into carrying out a sex act on Mitchell, which she did.
The pestering continued after returning to the car and she was told she would be dropped off 20 miles from home unless she also carried out a sex act on Taylor.
The following day she complained to her mother, who called the police.
Judge Thomas said girls of 14 and 15 might appear to be physically mature but they were not emotionally mature.
"They are children and courts have to protect them from men such as you who exploit them," he said.
"They are easy prey for unscrupulous men. It is sexual abuse.
"One of the disturbing features is how you hung around schoolgirls.
"It is worrying that this is not the first case from that area of Ceredigion that I have dealt with.
"If there is a cult of offending in that area I trust these sentences will deter."