Man jailed for sex attack on schoolgirl

A SEXUAL predator who groomed a 15-year-old schoolgirl before subjecting her to a terrifying indecent assault was jailed for five-and-a-half years yesterday.

A SEXUAL predator who groomed a 15-year-old schoolgirl before subjecting her to a terrifying indecent assault was jailed for five-and-a-half years yesterday.

George Watson began a campaign of letters, phone calls and text messages to the teenager after he was given her number by one of her fellow pupils who he met in an internet chat room.

The youngster from north Essex became convinced the 39-year-old loved her and was prepared to move from his home in Derbyshire to start a new life with her.

Watson, who tricked the girl into thinking he was called 'Lee', travelled by train and they arranged to meet for the first time at Thorpe-le-Soken train station, near Frinton.

But the teenager's dream rendezvous soon turned to a nightmare as Watson immediately took her into a cubicle in the men's toilets, pulled down her trousers and attacked her.

The victim, now 17, froze and tried to pretend it was not happening but when Watson said he wanted to have sex it made her gather her wits and she ran onto a train in tears.

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Watson boarded the same carriage, giving the youngster a love-theme CD, plastic flowers and a teddy bear in a desperate effort to get out of trouble.

But the former bar manager headed home after his victim pleaded for him to leave and she later confessed to her parents, who contacted police.

Watson was arrested at his home, the Little John Inn, in Hathersage, Derbyshire, where detectives discovered two letters from the victim but he denied ever meeting her, claiming to have travelled to Essex to meet another girl.

Detectives found DNA from the girl from Watson's saliva following the attack in February last year.

Watson, now 41, who did not have any convictions for sexual offences before the attack, denied the charge of indecent assault but was found guilty by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court in November.

Mitigating for Watson, Amelia Fosuhene, said Watson had not lied about his age and said the victim had sent Watson a pair of her knickers.

She added: “He did not try to hide his age or his appearance and what is evident is that she must have also given her address to Mr Watson for Mr Watson to be able to send her letters.”

She suggested Watson was looking for love, having split from his wife who he has a son with, and thought he had found it with the youngster.

But Judge Rodger Haywood-Smith QC said Watson had groomed the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, before subjecting her to an “unpleasant and sordid offence”.

He said all of the correspondence between the two was part of Watson's grooming process.

“You were grooming her for your own sexual desires, it was nothing to do with love and everything to do with your lust for a young schoolgirl.

“Despite there being no history of sexual offending, I have no doubt whatsoever that you are a danger to young girls and evidently are a sexual predator as described.

“It is clear from the evidence in his case that you are a sexual predator and a menace to young girls.”

Watson, who was wearing a purple t-shirt and black leather coat, showed little reaction to the sentence other than muttering to himself.

Speaking afterwards, Detective Alan Reed of British Transport Police said parents should be vigilant about what their children do on the internet and know exactly who they are talking to.

He added: “I am pleased with the sentence which has been handed down as it sends a message to any person considering prowling on the internet for sexual gratification.

“I fully echo the sentence of the judge - his whole intention was to lure and groom young girls for sex.”

Watson had failed to turn up at court for the start of trial and was also sentenced to 28 days, to be served consecutively, for breaching his bail conditions.

He will be placed on the sex offenders' register and was disqualified from working with children for the rest of his life.

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