A CHILD abuser was caught when police recognised a girl’s description of his red Mohican haircut.
Gary Clifford, pictured, targeted his 14-year-old victim in a series of text messages, Durham Crown Court heard.
“It was clear from the texts he wanted a sexual encounter,” said Sarah Mallett, prosecuting.
“The pair agreed to meet on farmland in a village outside Durham City. Clifford brought a blanket.”
The court was told the girl’s brother saw her with Clifford shortly before she was sexually assaulted.
“He shouted: ‘paedo’ and Clifford ran off,” said Ms Mallett.
“The brother tried to get his sister to come home with him, but she refused.
“She later met with Clifford again, which is when the sexual assault took place.”
Ms Mallet said the following day, the girl told her sister what had happened.
She mentioned her attacker’s distinctive haircut, which a police officer knew was likely to be Clifford.
Clifford, 24, of Pelaw Road, Chester-le-Street, admitted sexual activity with a child in September last year, and two charges of breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order imposed for a sexual assault on a girl in 2009.
Jane Waugh, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Clifford does not deliberately seek out girls who are under 16. He was frank with police about what happened.
“But for what he said to them, he might never have been prosecuted.”
The Recorder, Mr Ian Atherton, jailed Clifford for three years and six months.
The recorder told him: “You sought out and befriended your victim with the intention of having sex with her.
“You exchanged text messages with her and set up a meeting, indicating this was a pre-meditated offence.
“Another aggravating feature is your previous conviction for a sexual offence with a girl under 16.”
Clifford was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention order, banning him for life from unsupervised contact with children.
He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.