Pervert jailed for grooming schoolgirl for sex

A man who sent hundreds of messages to a teenager he cared for and had sex with has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Iernan Padhraig Lawless was warned by the victim’s mother to stay away from her daughter, but he continued to pursue the 14-year-old.

The 20-year-old creep has to serve eight months of his sentence behind bars and the rest on a license. Lawless, of Morne Park in Castlewellan, had already pleaded guilty to sexual grooming and other sexual offenses against more than one girl in November 2020.

In an earlier hearing, Lawless was told how to exchange text and social media messages with a teenager and bombard her with FaceTime calls.

Later she met Lawless in a park in Castlewellan with another girl and told her parents that she was staying with a friend.

Initially, the 14-year-old denied any sexual contact, but later admitted to her mother that she had had unprotected sex.

Downpatrick Crown Court was told that Lawless “does not shy away from the fact that he puts his own sexual desires above the vulnerability” of the victim.

And even though he knew her age, “he continued to encourage her to hang out with him.”

Aggravating factors in the case included Lawless giving the girls alcohol and failing to heed the warning to stay away.

In addition to the jail term, Lawless will be required to sign the sex offender registry for 10 years and became the subject of a five-year sex crime prevention program.

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