Man jailed for sexually exploiting teenage girl - Welwyn Garden City

25/05/2017

A man, who was first convicted in 1973, was jailed for 6 and a half years today, Thursday, 25 May 2017, for sexually exploiting a vulnerable 15-year-old girl.

Michael Wood, aged 56, had sexual activity with the teenager on three occasions and exchanged explicit images with her over the Internet.

When the police raided his home in Welwyn Garden City, Herts in June last year Wood had been looking at pornography, St Albans Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Nicola Devas said: "It seemed he had been recently using his computer. A chat room was open. The officer could see a web cam was activated and on the screen there was pornography."

His home had been raided after concerns were raised by the girl's teachers who had called the police. The teenager told officers she met Wood in the summer of 2015. They became Facebook friends and he kissed her and sexually touched her just before Christmas that year.

Ms Devas went on: "At a point in January or February 2016 she went to meet the defendant. They met in Old Welwyn and went to a secluded area where they got off their bikes. They hugged and the defendant asked her if she wanted to touch him."

When his computer was examined, the police found indecent images. 17 were at Category A (6 stills and 11 videos), the most serious level, 18 were at Category B (5 stills and 13 videos), and 28 were at Category C, the least serious level (19 stills and 9 videos).

Unemployed Wood, now of Maybridge Crescent, Worthing, Sussex, admitted two charges of sexual activity with a child, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and three charges of making (downloading) indecent images of children.

He had three convictions for four sexual offences: in 1973 for gross indecency with a child, indecent assault and gross indecency in 1982, and from March 1997 an indecent assault on a girl aged under 16.

Will Noble, defending, asked for credit for his early guilty plea, saying his last conviction was 20 years ago and resulted in a sex offender treatment programme.

Jailing him, Judge Stephen Warner said: "These are extremely serious offences, involving the exploitation of a young girl by you, a much older man. She was young and she was vulnerable. You did it for your own gratification."

In addition to the custodial sentence, Wood must register as a sex offender for life and abide by the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order indefinitely.

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