A BLACKPOOL man who had sex with a 12-year-old girl has been jailed for five and a half years.
Lewis Wenham met the girl through a friend before a sexual relationship developed between them.
Wenham had acted with “crass stupidity”, his barrister told Preston Crown Court.
Wenham, 23, of Levine Avenue, Marton, pleaded guilty to two charges of raping of a girl under 13 and two of sexual assault.
He was charged with rape because in law, a girl under 13 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.
In passing sentence, Judge Michael Byrne told Wenham: “This is not simply a case of two young people carried away by their emotions. The age difference is too great.
“Twelve years old is a very young and susceptible age for a developing teenager”.
Wenham and the girl had met several weeks before his arrest.
Paul Cummings, prosecuting, said the girl got to know Wenham through a 17-year-old friend.
Police, acting on information, went to Beacon Fell in late July and discovered the two in his parked car at around 2am.
The girl accepted her mother had been trying to send her phone messages to find out where she was.
Chris Hudson, defending, said the sexual activity had all been fully consensual.
The girl had described Wenham to police as “a soul mate, like a long lost friend”.
Mr Hudson told the court “They felt they were mutual soul mates. The trips to Beacon Fell were at her instigation, rather than his.
“They would sit there discussing their lives. Sexual activity was almost a by product of that.
“He has not gone out to prey on young girls. This was genuine friendship, allied to stupidity.
“He has been crassly stupid while his partner has been away. He will pay dearly for it.”
Wenham was told he will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life, barred from working with children and subject to an eight year Sexual Offences Prevention order.