A man has been locked up for arranging to meet a 14-year-old on a social networking site and having an indecent relationship with her.
John Rushton then told his victim not to tell police what they had done, or he would kill himself.
He was jailed yesterday for five years for sex offences and perverting the course of justice.
Preston Crown Court heard the pair met on the website Tagged.com.
Police were alerted to their conversations by the website, and initially arrested Ruston, 25, of Darley Avenue, Blackpool, for grooming in October.
As officers delved deeper into their online relationship, they discovered they had had a sexual relationship and that Rushton had threatened to hurt himself if the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police.
Rushton admitted two counts of sexual activity with a child and perverting the course of justice.
Jacob Dyer, defending, said: “He himself is emotionally immature and somewhat introverted.
“He has difficulties forming relationships with adults.
“He viewed the girl, it seems, as being on a similar level of maturity to him.”
Rushton will be on the Sex Offender’s Register indefinitely, is banned from working with children and is subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
A judge has praised Tagged.com for raising the alarm over Rushton’s contact with his 14-year-old victim. The social media site, based in America, contacted the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, who then get in touch with the Awaken police team in Blackpool. Judge Heather Lloyd said: “Without their vigilance, these offences may never have been detected. “Perhaps knowing that these sites are vigilant will deter others.” Det Con David Higham from Awaken also commended Tagged.com. He said: “To their credit, they have been brilliant. “Rushton had complimented her when she was vulnerable and made her feel really good about herself. “Because he perverted the course of justice it did make our investigation harder, but people who do this kind of thing do leave trails and should expect us knocking on their door.”
Tagged.com’s vice president, Kathy Ciari, said: “Tagged is dedicated to user safety and security and we appreciate the acknowledgement of our commitment by the court. Law enforcement authorities can count on us to continue to do our best to promote safety on our site.”