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Man jailed for sex with underage girl made up Facebook account claiming to be 17-year-old student

PUBLISHED: 11:37 17 September 2019

Norwich Crown Court where Thomas Crawley, from Long Stratton, was jailed for 35 months for sex offences against a child. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court where Thomas Crawley, from Long Stratton, was jailed for 35 months for sex offences against a child. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A man has been jailed for 35 months after having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl and telling her family he was a college student to convince them he was 17.

Thomas Crawley, 23, of John Hill Close in Long Stratton, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Monday having earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual activity with a child and one charge of possessing indecent images of a child.

The court heard that Crawley, than aged 20, had begun a sexual relationship in 2016 with a 15-year-old girl he had met after exchanging online messages. Prosecuting Nicola May said: "They first came into contact when they exchanged messages on Instagram. She clearly stated her age. He indicated that he didn't care about her age.

"She appreciated his true age, which was 20, but in essence he and she lied to various friends and family indicating he was 17.

"He also set up a fake Facebook profile indicating that he was 17. The impression he gave was that he was a college student.

"Although she knew that she should not be having a relationship with someone who was older, and that she was underage, she fell for him quite substantially."

The court heard the pair exchanged sexually explicit exchanges and that he had asked her to call him "Dank Daddy". The teenager also sent him photographs of herself posing in her underwear.

Police who analysed Crawley's phone after his arrest found the images together with similar pictures that they later discovered were of a second 15-year-old girl.

Referencing the victim's impact statement to the court, Miss May said: "She is older now but has said that he felt groomed and exploited by an individual that was older than her. She states that she has become very anxious and has missed her college place. She feels that he took advantage of her. She fell for him and tried to please him and he exploited that situation."

Andrew Oliver, for Crawley, said: "He accepts that he was wrong in what he did and he knows why the court considers these offences as serious. And he does know that he has caused harm."

Sentencing him to 35 months and placing him on the sexual offenders register for life, Judge Katharine Moore said: "It is suggested that during the relationship you groomed her. I am not able to be sure to the criminal standard that this is so but it is clear that you were five years older than her and that you held the balance of power in the relationship. There is some evidence in my judge some element of manipulation."

She added: "In many ways 15-year-olds view themselves as young adults but the law protects them, because they are children. In this case they needed the protection of the law because they needed protection from you."

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