A man who had sex with a vulnerable 14-year-old girl against a tree has been allowed to walk free from court – because the judge said she seduced him.
Daniel Hayes, 21, was talking to the teenager, who lives in a care home, on Snapchat before they arranged to meet in the woods, in Canley, Coventry.
The girl later confided to carers that the pair had had sex and he was arrested by police.
Hayes, of Coventry, admitted sexual activity with a child and was given a 10-month sentence, suspended for two years at Warwick Crown Court.
He was also ordered to complete a 100-day sex offender programme and sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: ‘She was 14 years old, and you were aware it was likely she was under 16. She was also a child in care, and therefore vulnerable in another way.
‘I accept you did not know that, but if you have sex with an under-16-year-old, it is a risk you take.
‘She expresses a wish to meet you and have sex with you. There is no indication in the messages that she’s under pressure.
‘To start with the requests all came from her, but towards the end you very foolishly agree to meet her in order to have sex. The reason this is a serious offence is because she was a child.
‘If she was 16 you would not be committing any offence at all, but children of that age are protected for a reason, no matter how mature they seem.
‘You were 19 at the time, not a child, but still a teenager, and you are rightly described as a somewhat lonely young man.
‘I do take the view this was entirely out of character, and I also take into account your own vulnerabilities.’
Hayes, who had a girlfriend at the time, started speaking to teenager on Snapchat in 2017.
Messages revealed to the court showed her offering to send him nude photos of herself, and telling him: ‘Your d*** will love it up my p***y’.
In one interaction, he indicated that he realised she was underage, responding: ‘Shame you’re too young.’
They discussed meeting, and the girl said she wanted to perform oral sex on Hayes, to which he replied: ‘You won’t though, will you?’.
He then told her: ‘We definitely going to go into the wood to bang, but only for 15 minutes [sic].’
Prosecutor Christopher Hewertson told the court ‘there was some kissing and cuddling, and then they had full sex up against a tree’.
Afterwards Hayes messaged the girl saying: ‘Wow, that was so good.’
Graham Russell, defending, said Hayes had been raised by strict, over-protective parents, which had prevented him from forming normal social relationships.
He said: ‘He was a young, impressionable, lonely young man at the time. It is dangerous to suggest he knew how to manipulate her.
‘An extraordinary circumstance he had never encountered before was presented to him.’