Houghton Regis man jailed for grooming young teen

The scales of justice SUS-170707-092211001
The scales of justice SUS-170707-092211001

A man in his late 50s who wanted a kiss and a hug from a 13-year-old girl was jailed for 12 months on Friday.

Robert Atkins, 58, had groomed the teenager over a week before going to meet her in Houghton Regis.

Luton crown court heard that when he arrived the girl was there with friends.

Prosecutor Angus Robertson said Atkins had telephone contact with the girl after the death of his mother. On 13 November he send her messages saying: “Home alone” and “Need anything?”

He went on to say: “Wish I ch you”. The girl did not know what this meant, said Mr Robertson. After a long text exchange she worked out it meant: “I wish I could have you.”

Mr Robertson said Atkins said he wanted to hug her, told her she was fit and asked her to come round to his house later for a “proper kiss.”

He was expecting to meet her alone in November but when he arrived her friends were there too.

Three days later her school found out what happened and the police were called.

Atkins, of Leaf Road, Houghton Regis, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to causing a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child following sexual grooming.

Defending, Anna Hamilton-Shield said the offences were at the lower end. She said he had wanted only a kiss and hug and had not suggested intercourse. The grooming last for only 7 days.

She said alcohol was the root of his problems. “After the death of his mother his alcohol intake increased. He was consuming bottles and bottles of cider a day. He has now taken steps to address his alcohol misuse and is on an alcohol assistance rehabilitation programme,” she said.

Recorder Patrick Fields said the text messages had “sinister overtones” and were “laced with sexual innuendo.”

He said Atkins’ drinking did not mitigate the offence, but made it an aggravating feature.

The judge made a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and said Atkins must register as a Sex Offender for 5 years.