A HUCKNALL man who admitted raping a 12-year-old girl but was ‘misled’ about her age has been spared jail and hit with a three-year community order.
During a sentencing hearing at Nottingham Crown Court, it was revealed that the girl, who was from Ilkeston, had been infatuated with 20-year-old Ryan Cooper, of Watnall Road, who believed she was 16 years old.
When she became distressed during the offence in Maws Lane, Kimberley, on Wednesday October 26 last year, Cooper immediately left the girl and began walking home, the court was told.
He was arrested shortly afterwards and a psychiatric report revealed there was sufficient concern for his mental health at the police station.
His solicitor, Michael Evans, said: “He repeatedly informed me that he thought the girl was 16 and he did not try to force himself on her.
“The act does not appear to be predatory, more a sign of his sexual immaturity. He is a young man with social and emotional difficulties.”
Mr Evans said that Cooper had low self-esteem, had suffered from the break-up of his parents’ marriage and had experienced levels of intimidation in his community following his initial court appearance.
“He was 19 (at the time) but emotionally he was a lot younger,” added Mr Evans.
“The truth is that the moment he thought something was odd he stopped — he was not rude, he just said he was going home.
“Underneath this he is a genuinely nice young man, but he is completely broken and would never intentionally do something like this.”
Judge Tony Mitchell said that he did not think a custodial sentence would be appropriate as it would not help Cooper or his victim, who had both been seriously affected by the case.
The judge said that this was an ‘exceptional case’ and added: “The word rape has connotations and when you add the rape of a child to that, the connotations are even greater.
“There is no defence based on consent if the girl is under 13.
“However physically developed they may be, they are children and they must be protected from themselves.
“But I commend you (Cooper) for telling the truth, there is clear evidence that she misled you as to her age, that is tragically part of her infatuation.”
Cooper was also ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months and placed on the sex offenders’ register for the next five years.