Man who had sex with 15-year-old girl avoids prison
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A man who had sex with a 15-year-old girl has been ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years.
Before Ipswich Crown Court for sentence was 22-year-old Kieran Heard, who was aged 20 at the time of the offence in December 2018.
Heard, of Halstead Road, Eight Ash Green, near Colchester, sent a friend request to the girl, who he did not know previously, via Facebook, the court heard.
The girl accepted the friend request and the pair began communicating, Philip Farr, prosecuting, told the court.
The messages became flirtatious and Heard suggested they move their conversation to Snapchat, Mr Farr said.
Heard then encouraged a meeting, and the pair met and had sex, the court heard.
Heard messaged the girl that evening but she made an excuse not to talk to him and a few weeks later, she disclosed what had happened to her parents.
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Heard made full admissions in police interview, and was of previous good character, the court heard.
Heard previously pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16.
Edmund Gritt, mitigating, said Heard made a "full confession" in a voluntary police interview and "fully appreciated the seriousness of the offending".
Mr Gritt said there had been no further issues or concerns in the two years since the incident and that it was a "one-off" incident never to be repeated.
Mr Gritt said Heard's remorse was "wholly genuine and sincere" and that he was a "vulnerable and immature" young man.
Sentencing Heard on Friday, Judge Emma Peters said she accepted Heard was a young man with his own difficulties and a lack of maturity, but she felt the offence crossed the custody threshold.
But the judge decided against immediate custody, handing Heard a nine-month sentence, suspended for two years.
He must also complete up to 70 rehabilitation activity days and sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years.
The judge also imposed a five-year sexual harm prevention order.
Judge Peters told Heard: "I have given you a chance today so grasp it with both hands" but warned him if he breached the terms of his sentence, he would probably go to prison.