A MECHANIC who had sex with a 13-year-old girl after taking her for a fast-food meal will not be going to jail.
James William Glendinning, 22, told the girl that meeting her in Chester was “the biggest risk he had ever taken”.
But in Chester Crown Court on Monday, he was told it must “never happen again” and was handed a 12-month suspended sentence – meaning he will not go to jail provided he stays out of trouble.
The pair had met on internet social site Bebo and the girl, from Chester, said she was 17.
When Glendinning, of Priestlands Avenue, Hexham, Northumberland, found out her true age, he initially acted responsibly, but weeks later drove to Chester and had sex with her.
Sentencing, Recorder of Chester Judge Elgan Edwards said: “I am taking a quite exceptional course because of the quite exceptional circumstances of this case and that you started off genuinely believing this girl was 17.”
Glendinning and the girl used instant messaging and phone texts to stay in contact, and she told him she was a 17-year-old hairdresser.
The pair met up in Manchester on October 13 and then agreed to travel to Newcastle. But when they arrived she switched on her phone and was “bombarded” with concerned messages from friends and family. When Glendinning found out she was 13 he insisted she contact both her parents and Cheshire Police.
Judge Edwards said: “He then behaved properly towards her. Up to that point he has done nothing wrong criminally.
“It is she who starts up the contact again.”
Glendinning, of previous good character, eventually responded to her texts and on November 3 drove to Chester.
They ate a meal then drove to an abandoned supermarket and had sex in his car.
Peter Frost, prosecuting, said: “He makes no bones of the fact he knew precisely how old she was.
“The police only know about it because the defendant was so frank. When interviewed he was extremely honest and co-operative and admitted the prosecution case.”
Explaining it was a reversal of roles, James Cullen, defending, said: “This is a young child who was clearly much more mature than her age. He was very easily led and very immature himself.
“His mother has abandoned him.”
Sentencing Glendinning to 12 months concurrent on each count of engaging in sexual acts, Judge Edwards called it a “serious matter” and added: “Thirteen-year- old girls have to be protected from themselves.”
Glendinning also received a supervision order and must attend the national sex offenders treatment programme.