A PAEDOPHILE who exploited the affection of a frightened 12-year-old girl has been jailed for four years and eight months.
Mark Andrew Harris, 39, ignored an official police warning to stay away from the girl after her mother confronted him over their friendship, said Sarah Mallett, prosecuting. He was more than three times the girl’s age.
Within days of her turning 13, he had sex with her and continued to have a sexual relationship with her for months, until the mother found his texts on the girl’s mobile phone.
In her diary, the girl wrote: “I am truly and utterly in love with him.”
Harris claimed to police he had been trying to help and guide the girl, whom the court heard had a troubled past and went on to have relationships with other men.
Mrs Mallett said: “Her involvement with this defendant began a process of turning a frightened child into a very sexualised child.”
The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, told Harris: “What you did and the activities you engaged in with (the girl) were done by you with your eyes fully open to the situation. You exploited the affection that she was displaying towards you.”
He said: “There is only one outcome in this case. You must go to prison.”
Harris, 39, of Huntington Road, York, pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual activity with a girl.
In addition to the jail term of four years and eight months, he was placed on the sex offenders’ register, made subject to a sexual offences prevention order banning him from all contact with the girl and any unsupervised contact with any girl under 16, and disqualified from working with children, all for life.
His solicitor, Alaistair Bateman, said: “He is not a danger to young girls. This is an isolated case.”
Harris had not groomed the girl but had wanted to support her, he said. He was an isolated man whose life had been blighted by his schizophrenia and had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for much of his adult life.