14-year-old girl was exploited by Bury St Edmunds man, court told

Zach Howard, of St Stephen's Close, Bury St Edmunds, exploited a 14-year-old girl by having sex with

Zach Howard, of St Stephen's Close, Bury St Edmunds, exploited a 14-year-old girl by having sex with her Ipswich Crown Court heard. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk man who had sex with a 14-year-old girl has been given a suspended sentence.

Zach Howard, who was 18 at the time of the offence, had been warned by her family that she was only 14 and was told he should stay away from her a month before he had sex with her, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Howard, 20, of St Stephen’s Close, Bury St Edmunds, admitted sexual activity with a child and was given an 11 month period of detention in a young offenders“ institution suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work and to attend a sex offenders programme.

He was also given a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement and banned from contacting the victim indefinitely.

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He was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for ten years and ordered to sign the sex offenders register for the same period.

Sentencing him, Judge Emma Peters said although he initially denied knowing she was underage Howard now accepted he knew she was only 14 when he had sex with her.

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She said the girl’s mother described her family as being “shattered“ by what had happened.

“You exploited this young girl by having sex with her. You took away her innocence,” added the judge.

She said she had made the decision to pass a suspended sentence rather than an immediate sentence with a “heavy heart” but wanted to ensure other children were protected from him in the future by passing conditions attached to the suspended sentence order.

Gareth Hughes, prosecuting, said the victim had gone to a bedroom at a friend’s house with Howard and sexual intercourse had taken place after alcohol had been consumed.

Jonathan Goodman, for Howard, said his client was ashamed of what had happened.

He said the matter had hung over him for two years and he hadn’t reoffended in that time.

“He isn’t a sexual predator,“ said Mr Goodman.

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