Judge spares pervert who had sex with schoolgirl, 13June 30, 2020
Judge spares pervert, now 32, from jail after he had sex with 13-year-old schoolgirl while pretending to be a teenager himself
- Michael Thornton spent 18 months in prison for offences against two other girls
- Another victim came forward saying he also slept with her when she was 13
- He was 22 at the time and pretended to be a teenager when he slept with her
- However, judge spared him jail and said it was ‘exceptional set of circumstances’
Judge Mark Savill spared Mark Thornton, 32, jailed for child sex offences
A pervert who had sex with a 13-year-old schoolgirl while pretending to be a teenager has been spared jail after a judge branded the case ‘exceptional’.
Michael Thornton, now 32, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to two offences of sexual activity with a child.
Thornton told the victim he was 16 but he was actually 22 and slept with the girl on two occasions, once when she was in her school uniform.
At around the same time, he had sex with two other schoolgirls.
He was previously tried for these offences and Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard he had spent 18 months in prison on remand while awaiting sentencing.
He later received a three-year community order.
But Thornton appeared before the courts again after the 13-year-old came forward to police and revealed he had slept with her while she was a schoolgirl.
A judge has now spared Thornton jail after ruling that the case represented an ‘exceptional set of circumstances’.
The judge also heard that Thornton had since turned his life around and rehabilitated himself and is a married father of three.
Prosecutors told how the victim had accepted a friend request on Facebook from Thornton.
He told her she was ‘beautiful’ but it would have been ‘abundantly clear’ to Thornton that she was a child, prosecutor Justin Hayhoe said.
She told him she was 13, and she had photos of herself on her Facebook profile.
Thornton told her he was 16, despite being aged 22 at the time.
Mr Hayhoe said Thornton behaved in a ‘manipulative’ manner, at one point saying he was suicidal.
The girl persuaded him not to harm himself.
The court was told the victim ‘fell in love’ with Thornton, and they agreed to meet up.
They had sex on two occasions, once after she had met Thornton while wearing her school uniform.
Years later, she reflected on what happened and felt ‘disgusted’, the court heard.
She began to search for Thornton ‘out of curiosity’, and discovered he had been lying about his age.
Michael Thornton, now 32, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to two offences of sexual activity with a child at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court. However, he was spared jail
Mr Hayhoe said the victim wouldn’t have engaged with Thornton had she known his true age.
Thornton was interviewed last year after the police launched an investigation.
The court heard Thornton, described as ‘extremely immature’ when committing the offences, is now a married father-of-three and has a job.
Judge Mark Savill said Thornton had done ‘exactly that which was required of you by the court’.
Judge Savill said: ‘No-one must think that anyone committing these offences can expect anything other than a far longer immediate sentence of imprisonment.
‘This is an exceptional set of circumstances. Rarely can I say this, I am fully satisfied that you will continue to live a decent, law-abiding life.’
Thornton was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to complete the Maps for Change program for sex offenders.
Thornton, previously of Urmston, Greater Manchester, originally appeared at Manchester Crown Court in 2011.
At that time, the judge said he had considered the length of time Thornton had spent on remand when allowing him the opportunity to complete a three-year community order.
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