Man jailed for child sex offences - Houghton Regis

13/10/2017

A man, who wanted a kiss and a hug from a 13-year-old girl, was jailed for 12 months today, Friday, 13 October 2017.

Robert Atkins, aged 58, had groomed the teenager over a week before going to meet her in Houghton Regis.

Luton Crown Court heard that when he arrived, the girl was there with friends. She told him: "Look how old you are and look how old I am. It is a bit paedo isn't it?"

Prosecutor Angus Robertson said Atkins had telephone contact with the girl after the death of his mother. On 13 November he sent her messages saying: "Home alone" and "Need anything?" He went on to say: "Wish I ch you." The girl did not know what this meant, said Mr Robertson. After a long text exchange she worked out it meant: "I wish I could have you."

Mr Robertson said Atkins said he wanted to hug her, told her she was fit and asked her to come round to his house later for a "proper kiss."

He was expecting to meet her alone on 20 November, but when he arrived her friends were there too. Three days later her school found out what happened and the police were called.

In a victim personal statement, the girl's mother said the girl had moved from the area, had become withdrawn and suffered nightmares.

Atkins, of Leaf Road, Houghton Regis appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to causing a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child following sexual grooming.

Defending, Anna Hamilton-Shield said the offences were at the lower end. She said he had wanted only a kiss and the grooming lasted for only seven days. She said alcohol was the root of his problems. "After the death of his mother his alcohol intake increased. He was consuming bottles and bottles of cider a day. He has now taken steps to address his alcohol misuse and is on an alcohol assistance rehabilitation programme." she said.

Recorder Patrick Fields said the text messages had "sinister overtones" and were "laced with sexual innuendo". He said Atkins' drinking did not mitigate the offence, but made it an aggravating feature. In addition to the custodial sentence, the Judge made Atkins the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and said Atkins must register as a Sex Offender for five years.

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