Youth walks free from court after rape conviction

The teenagers agreed to meet through the internet.
The teenagers agreed to meet through the internet.

A 14-year-old youth from Sunderland who raped a girl in a field has walked free from court.

Magistrates heard the victim, a 15-year-old girl, agreed to meet him after a conversation on Facebook and went to the meeting on the understanding sex would take place but changed her mind when she got there.

The rape took place in a field beside the A19.

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denied rape but was convicted after a trial at Sunderland Youth Court in February before District Judge Roger Elsey.

At a sentencing hearing, Ann Richardson, prosecuting, said: “She says she has been left depressed and fearful of others. Her school work has suffered, as has her parents’ relationship. She has been unable to sleep, and has had suicidal thoughts.”

The youth, now 15, was of previous good character.

Christopher Rose, defending, said: “I appreciate this will have had a significant impact on the victim but the sentencing guidelines say the court’s priority should be the welfare of the defendant, and the prevention of future offending.

“The victim is described as vulnerable, but a 14-year-old is unlikely to be able to assess that in the way an older person could be expected to.

“There was no planning, and he did not try to engineer a situation. She went to the area consenting, but changed her mind when she got there.

“As a young man of good character, immediate custody may influence this young man towards further offending rather than away from it.

Judge Elsey sentenced him to a supervision order of 12 months, including 90 days of intensive supervision, a curfew of three months, and 12 days of community payback.

The judge told him: “Were you an adult the sentence would have been four or five years, were you between 16 and 18, it could have been up to two years.

“I am legally obliged to take account of your age at the time, and I am legally obliged to focus on your welfare and need for training.

The youth must register as a sex offender for 30 months, and he was made the subject of a restraining order banning him from contacting his victim.

The judge ordered the youth’s mother to pay £300 towards the costs of the prosecution.

Aafter the case, the youth’s solicitor Neil Hodgson said an appeal against the conviction has been lodged, and will be heard at later this year.