Judge's warning over 'sexting' dangers after schoolgirl approached on social media for sex

Crown Court
Crown Court

A crown court judge has issued a warning to teenagers about the dangers of "sexting" on social media.

Judge Stephen Earl said young people need to be aware of the impact that their inappropriate online behaviour can have on themselves and others.

The warning came as the judge dealt with the "disturbing" case of 18-year-old Kieran Doran, who had used social media to try and convince an underage girl to have sex with him.

He had attempted to persuade the teenage schoolgirl to take a "sickie" from school to spend time with him and tell lies to her parents and friends.

Prosecutor Paul Currer told Newcastle Crown Court: "He was persistent, clearly making a determined effort to arrange a meeting."

The court heard the young victim never agreed to such a meeting and there was no physical contact between them.

Doran, of Marlborough Road, Washington, admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Judge Earl said: "It is a decidedly difficult problem, dealing with relatively young people for what is euphemistically called sexting.

"There is a complete misunderstanding about what social media can or should contain.

"We are increasingly seeing cases before the courts of young, inexperienced people, who feel it is appropriate to express views, that one might have done by nudging your friends, about what they think."

Judge Earl said the case highlights how young people feel free to say almost anything over their computers, phones and laptops, without thinking about the consequences.

He added: "This sort of behaviour is very dangerous, particularly when it crosses age barriers, as this case does."

The judge said Doran had considered his behaviour to be "just a bit of fun" over the internet and that other young people must be cautious of making the same mistake.

Doran was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation and programme requirements.

He was ordered to sign the sex offenders register for ten years.

Andrew Walker, defending, said Doran, who is already a father of two, will be restricted and monitored as a result of his behaviour.