Pervert spared jail for grooming girl, 12, because of ‘appalling’ police delays

A man who groomed a young girl has walked free because of police delays that led to the case not coming to court for nearly four years.

Mark Davison, 30, got his victim, 12, to send indecent pictures of herself to him on Snapchat as part of a fantasy relationship. He admitted to police what he had done in June 2016 but was released under investigation, meaning there was no time limit on how long they have to charge him, unlike when they are released on bail.

However, it was not until December that he finally appeared in court to plead guilty. Sentencing him this week, Judge Amanda Rippon slammed the delay saying she would have locked Davison up immediately if he had been dealt with in a more timely fashion.

She told Newcastle Crown Court. ‘There’s been an utterly appalling delay. I assume that’s because he was released under investigation. The offence happened four years ago. You were released under investigation, as many defendants now are and that can be the only explanation for your first hearing at this court being in December last year.

‘I’ve seen cases of delay but I can’t bring one to mind where the delay has been quite so extensive, where all the boxes were ticked for it to be before the court more quickly.

‘There is a very young complainant, who was 12 at the time and is now 16 and a vulnerable defendant who is now 30.

‘But for the delay in the case I would have not found myself able to get to a sentence that I could have suspended.’

Davison groomed the girl by liking her pictures on Instagram and they started chatting before moving onto Snapchat where they agreed they were boyfriend and girlfriend despite her telling him she was 12. He convinced her that he was 18, when in actual fact he was 26.

He then started asking for naked pictures, told her he loved her and started talking about her running away with him. He sent her pictures of himself in his underwear, referred to his penis, and told her he wanted to get her pregnant.

Prosecutor David Comb said: ‘She said she believed she was in a genuine relationship with him.

‘She had no insight into his behaviour or any inclination she was being groomed for sexual purposes. She said she would have been quite prepared to meet him for a physical encounter.

‘Only with the benefit of hindsight did she explain how the experience affected her confidence and left her feeling scared to go about her everyday life.’

Davison was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years.