A 20-year-old man from St Helens has been jailed for two years for pressurising a girl six years younger than him into having sex.
Daniel Carmody pestered the 14-year-old relentlessly and after his arrest police found text messages and pictures on his phone which proved he had formed an inappropriate sexual relationship with the teenager.
Carmody continued to maintain he had never had a physical relationship with the girl but he was found guilty of sexual activity with a minor.
He was first brought to the attention of police after social workers, who were already involved in helping the victim and her family, became concerned something was wrong.
Carmody, of North Road, St Helens, was found twice at the girl’s home and on one occasion he lied about who he was and on the other he ran away when social workers arrived.
They then reported their concerns to police, who assigned officers specialising in child sexual exploitation to the case.
Those officers then found lewd pictures and text messages on Carmody’s phone.
The teenage victim then told police Carmody had been pressurising her into having sex.
Carmody, though, went on to break his bail conditions by repeatedly contacting her while was under investigation.
Det Sgt Jim Starkey said the case was an example of agencies working together to prevent child sexual exploitation (CSE).
He said: “If it wasn’t for these social workers being alert to the signs of CSE and asking the right questions about why Carmody was at the girl’s house, this matter may not have come to our attention.
“This was a girl who was already vulnerable and who Carmody knew was underage yet he pursued a relationship with her and was solely responsible for making it sexual.
“He then tried to deny any wrongdoing when clearly he had been exploiting her vulnerability and young age.
“Thankfully he was stopped before he could continue harming her and we are grateful to our colleagues in social services for acting on their suspicions.
“Anyone working in a profession where they are responsible for protecting children should make sure they know the signs of a child being in danger or being harmed. The police service takes child sexual exploitation extremely seriously and we will keep working to raise awareness about this hidden crime and encourage more people to come forward and report it. “