Sandown man JAILED after grooming vulnerable teen

A SANDOWN man who targeted and groomed an already sexually abused child into engaging in further sexual activity has been jailed.

David Ward, of Avenue Road, appeared before the Isle of Wight Crown Court on Friday.

At a previous hearing on April 1, the 51-year-old admitted two counts of sexual activity with a child, between February 18 and July 27 of last year.

He also admitted two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, between February 28, 2020, and July 27, 2020.

At the Crown Court last week, prosecutor Robert Griffiths said Ward’s offences had come to light after his victim was hospitalised following an overdose. He said the teenager revealed the abuse to her neighbour.

Mr Griffiths said the victim had confided in Ward and disclosed previous sexual abuse.

He said the pair’s correspondence started with phone messages which turned sexual.

Mr Griffiths said the victim did not know what to do, and thought it was normal, believing his behaviour to be ‘just what men do’.

Ward told his victim to delete the messages so no one would see them, and made her take screenshots as proof.

In police interview Ward admitted his actions, but suggested they had been consensual.

He denied threatening the victim, telling police he had asked her to delete the messages due to storage space.

In a statement read out in court, the victim described how worthless, lost, isolated and empty she felt as a result of Ward’s actions, and how it had impacted on her mental and physical health.

Thomas Horder, defending, said besides a drink driving offence, Ward had never been in trouble before.

He said Ward had made significant admissions and hoped the swift conclusion of the case would be of some comfort to the aggrieved.

Mr Horder said Ward was sorry for what he had done.

Judge Susan Evans said Ward was aware of how vulnerable the victim was and targeted her.

Ward was handed a 40-month prison sentence, to serve half on licence.

He was made subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, and ordered to pay a surcharge of £190. He was also placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Isle of Wight County Press | News