A former sea cadet leader who groomed and sexually molested a 15-year-old girl was put behind bars for two years.
Robert Morton, 37 - described by a later girlfriend as “immature, inadequate and a fantasist” - began a relationship with the girl when she was 14 and he was twice her age.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that after her next birthday they secretly began having sexual contact and when she reached the age of 16 they had consensual sex until he found himself a girlfriend.
After the offences came to light, that new girlfriend also described him as “having no close friends and directionless”.
Morton, who lives with his parents in Green Lane, Ellesmere Port and has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
Jailing him Judge David Aubrey QC said: “You appear to be something of a fantasist. Your chronological age does not necessarily reflect your mental age.”
He said that Morton had pleaded guilty on the basis that the offences reflected a course of conduct for about a year and he had been well aware of her age.
Morton was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for ten years and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the same period was imposed.
Charles Lander, prosecuting, told the court that although the victim confided in a friend, it was only last year that she felt able to tell police.
Morton, who had been an officer with the sea cadets in New Ferry, had begun his contact with the girl via texts which became “rude” and they started meeting regularly and having sexual activity in New Ferry Park.
When arrested and interviewed last June he admitted his behaviour.
Describing Morton’s fantasist and immature behaviour his lawyer, Christopher Hunt, said that Morton’s girlfriend also spoke of him claiming he was a marine but he had actually been discharged after a short period.
“At the time he was depressed and his only outlet was the sea cadets.”
He had worked all his life, latterly as a process operator, but he had given that up awaiting the outcome of this case.
“He is overwhelmed with remorse and shame for the way he behaved some years ago,” said Mr Hunt.