A 35-year-old man who groomed, then seduced, a 15-year-old has been jailed for two years and eight months.
Gary Driscoll, who has a daughter a year younger than his victim, exploited the fact the schoolgirl had a crush on him for his own sexual gratification.
He accepted her request to be a Facebook friend and exchanged lewd messages online before repeatedly meeting her in secret in a park where they eventually had sex.
Colin Meeke, prosecuting,said on October 29 last year Driscoll and the girl agreed to meet in a local park and she was drinking from a bottle of cider to calm her nerves when he arrived.
They kissed and cuddled, Mr Meeke said.
He said they sent ‘salacious messages’ to each other on Facebook and arranged to meet again.
When they met for a third time in the park he kissed and touched her before having full sex.
“It was an escalating pattern from meeting to touching over clothing to full intercourse,” Mr Meeke said.
The girl mentioned what had happened to a friend at school and, realising it was wrong, told a teacher and the police were brought in.
Driscoll, of Jopp Close, Haydon End, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual activity with a child and two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Rob Ross, defending, said his client did not appear to have an unhealthy interest in young girls, having been in relationships with appropriately aged women.
He said: “It is clear what took place took place when he was at a low ebb.
“He had been going through a divorce for a long period of time.
“The relationship he was in was not a good one.
“He was flattered by the attention and he allowed himself to be stupid.
“He is not someone who comes before the court thinking what he did was OK.
“He knows it was wrong. He doesn't present as a sophisticated man in any way.”
Jailing him Judge Douglas Field said: “There is a considerable disparity between your ages.
“There were messages exchanged over Facebook.
“She was being groomed and, as a result of making contact with her, you started to sexually offend against her.
“And that grew in seriousness until you had sexual intercourse with her.
“Her willingness to engage does not, in fact, mitigate. She was only 15 and you are 35.
“You seduced her, in my judgement, for your own sexual gratification.”
He told Driscoll he must register as a sex offender for life.
Det Con Nick Bishop said: ‘We are pleased with the result as it sends a clear message to offenders that we will take every action available to us to put them before the courts. It also acts as a reminder of the potential dangers of social media sites and we encourage parents to make their children aware of these risks.”