A paedophile who groomed a teenage girl and wrote about their activities in his diary has been jailed.
ndrew McRoberts, from Ballinderry, Co Antrim, was handed a three-year sentence, half of which will be spent in jail and half on licence.
The 32-year-old pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual activity with a child, sexual communication with a child and possessing an indecent image of a child, all committed on dates between April 2018 and July 2019.
His crimes came to light in August 2019 when family friends brought their suspicions to the 15-year-old’s parents.
When the girl’s mother and father examined her phone, they found “extremely sexual” messages and evidence that McRoberts and their daughter had been exchanging explicit images.
Police who raided his home the next day found sex toys, restraints and condoms with the girl’s DNA on them.
The victim told officers she met the defendant at a vintage tractor rally. After a week of exchanging messages, he told the girl, who was 14 at the time, that “he liked her”.
She estimated they had sex “on 20 to 30 occasions” over the course of 16 months.
Prosecuting counsel Ian Tannahill said the teenager had spoken throughout police interviews as if she and the paedophile were in a relationship.
She told officers “she sent pictures of her private parts to him… of her own free will” and that he would send her sexually explicit images too.
According to McRoberts’ diaries, which also detail the moment the victim “had her first sip of Buckfast”, they first had sex on July 9, 2018, when she was 14.
“The diaries are distasteful and coarse. We make the proposition that what you see is a diary of how a child is groomed and then more serious offending (is committed) over the course of that year,” Mr Tannahill said.
Defence counsel Peter Coiley conceded that his client “knew what he was doing was wrong”, that his crimes were “deplorable… and despite knowing that, he continued the relationship”.
He said McRoberts had asked him to tell the victim and her family: “I am deeply sorry that this has happened. If I could wind back time, I would never have become involved. I can only apologise for my actions.”
Judge Patrick Lynch told the defendant that while he would get credit for his guilty pleas, “he had little option (but to do so)” given his diary entries.
He also dismissed defence claims that McRoberts had not corrupted the victim.
“I cannot accept that. She is a victim and one cannot say there is no corruption. There was a series of sexual activities and some very explicit activities between them,” he said.
Judge Lynch also noted the aggravating factors in the case, including the age disparity and the fact that “there is no indication that he would have stopped” had the offences not been discovered.
Jailing McRoberts following a hearing at Craigavon Crown Court, he added: “(He knew) that what he was doing was wrong… (and) had to be kept secret. He knew the risks and, ultimately, he has to pay for those risks.”