Man who had sex with schoolgirl 'stole her childhood'

james stannard suffolk police

James Stannard has been jailed for seven and a half years - Credit: Suffolk Police

A Suffolk man who had sex with a 14-year-old schoolgirl in a hotel room has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Sentencing 43-year-old James Stannard, Judge Martyn Levett said he’d targeted a vulnerable girl who had been bullied at school.

“You dragged her into a world of total deceit,” said the judge.

He said that in an impact statement the girl’s mother described what Stannard had done to her daughter as “unforgivable” and accused him of stealing her daughter’s childhood.

The victim’s father said he had sought psychiatric help for the “anger, anguish and turmoil” he felt as a result of what Stannard had done.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that Stannard bought the girl a “plethora“ of expensive gifts including a mobile phone, designer clothes and trainers and talked about wanting to marry her.

Brian Reece, prosecuting, said on one occasion Stannard had sex with the girl in a room at a Premier Inn while another teenager was in the room.

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Stannard, of Station Road, Trimley St Mary, admitted having penetrative sexual activity with a child, attempting to pervert the course of justice and child abduction.

In addition to being jailed he was given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for the same period.

He was also banned from contacting the victim and her family for 10 years.

Mr Reece said the abduction charge related to Stannard continuing his relationship with the girl after being served with a child abduction notice.

He said Stannard had attempted to pervert the course of justice in WhatsApp messages to the girl about what she should say to the police about their relationship.

Juliet Donovan, for Stannard, said her client had no previous convictions. 

She described him as having a “deluded relationship” with a girl who was much younger than him.

“It was a wake up call when he was arrested. He didn’t admit it straight away because he was frightened,” said Miss Donovan.

“He is sincerely apologetic to the girl and her family and everyone affected by what he has done."

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