Musician had sex with underage girl at party

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A TALENTED musician who had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl narrowly escaped a prison sentence.

Jordan Branthwaite was told by a judge that the offence warranted custody, but he thought he would benefit from a longer supervision order.

Paul Reid, prosecuting, told Durham Crown Court: “The offence happened at a house party.

“It is accepted the sex was consensual, and the girl was not far short of her 16th birthday.

“The victim and her parents did not wish to make a complaint.”

Branthwaite, 20, of Gibson Court, Boldon Colliery, admitted sexual activity with a child.

He admitted a separate offence of attempting to possess an indecent image of a child. The court heard he contacted a different girl via an internet social network and asked her to send him a photograph of herself partially clothed or naked.

Thomas Laffey, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Branthwaite is a very talented young man who has had many offers of work from both at home and abroad.

“He realises these convictions mean many of those avenues will now be closed to him. If ever one could say a young man is unlikely to trouble the courts again, it is this young man.”

Judge Prince sentenced Branthwaite – who has appeared at the Sunderland Empire as part of the theatre’s Stage Experience – to a three-year supervision order, including a sex offender treatment programme. The judge told him: “By showing her willingness to engage in sex with you, the victim showed herself to be vulnerable.

“It is your responsibility to recognise that and resist her. I take into account her decision not to make a complaint, and your good character, remorse and undoubted musical talents.

“I believe the longer supervision will be of greater benefit in the long term.

“But if you breach this order by offending again, you should expect to receive immediate custody.”

Branthwaite must register as a sex offender for five years.