A man from Elton with ‘an unhealthy interest in underage girls’ has been given 21 months in prison suspended for two years after beginning a two-year relationship with a 13-year-old girl which resulted in pregnancy.
Stephen Wilkinson, 24, of School Lane, was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Wednesday, after earlier pleading guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child, one count of inciting sexual activity with a child under 16 and one count of abducting a child.
The offences relate to three underage girls and occurred between 2009 and 2014.
The court heard Wilkinson, who works for his father’s tree felling and garden maintenance business, was 18 when he began a relationship with his first victim, who was just 13.
He would give her lifts to school, but bribe her into taking days off by saying otherwise he would not buy her cigarettes and alcohol.
Within three weeks, the relationship became sexual.
When a police officer warned Wilkinson of the potential consequences of his behaviour, Wilkinson laughed in his face.
The victim was 15 when the baby was conceived, but Wilkinson initially did not believe her when she told him she was pregnant.
She terminated the pregnancy going to a clinic in Liverpool with her mother and auntie.
While at the clinic Wilkinson told the victim’s auntie: “I know it’s my baby and I know it’s sad, but it wasn’t the right time.”
Simon Parry, prosecuting, said counselling she has since received meant she had to relive the abortion each time she had a session. She also said she has completely lost her self-confidence.
Wilkinson then began another relationship with a 13-year-old girl in February 2013, when he was 22.
He kissed her and asked if he could perform a sexual act on her, which she refused.
His third victim was 14 when they started seeing each other.
Concerned his daughter was seeing the defendant, her father took out a child abduction notice against Wilkinson, which he signed.
But they continued seeing each other and his neighbours spotted the girl inside his van two months later.
He was arrested and charged for being in breach of the notice.
John Philpotts, defending, said his client operates at a younger mental age than his 24 years.
“He sought the company of younger people because he is not able to relate to people of his own age because of his condition,” Mr Philpotts said.
“He knew what he was doing but they (the victims) were functioning perhaps older than their chronological ages and he perhaps was functioning below it.
Mr Philpotts added that while the acts he engaged in with the girls were criminal, they were also consensual.
Sentencing Wilkinson, Recorder Stephen Riordan QC said: “What these offences show is you have an unhealthy interest in underage girls.
“You are now 24 years of age but the psychological report shows that in medical terms you are rather younger than that and you occupy in your mind a world that is younger than the average 24-year-old.
“You knew their ages, you knew it was wrong to do what you were doing but you carried on doing it anyway.
“This behaviour leads me to consider you to be potentially a danger to young girls under the age of 16, but you have recognised what you have done by pleading guilty in this case.”
The judge explained that time Wilkinson has already served in custody and as the subject of a curfew order would mean he could only be sentenced to one month immediate custody, and ruled that a suspended sentence with a supervision order for two years was the appropriate sentence.
Judge Riordan also imposed a sexual harm prevention order and ordered Wilkinson to sign the sex offenders register, both for a period of ten years.