A ‘predatory’ Widnes paedophile who groomed, abducted and repeatedly had sex with a troubled schoolgirl has been jailed for five years.
Sydney Topping, aged 26, from Lodge Road, contacted the vulnerable Burnley girl, then aged 14, through a PlayStation interactive game.
They chatted on Facebook before they met and had intercourse in a sports field, days after she turned 15.
She had made her age clear, but Topping, who asked her to send him intimate pictures, was later to lie to the police and tell them he thought she was 16.
Topping, father of a young child, had targeted the girl, who was receiving threats from someone else over the internet and was frightened.
She had told him about her mental health issues. He twice took her to his home town of Widnes, where on one occasion, they had two sex sessions at his friends' houses.
Sentencing him at Burnley Crown Court on May 9, Judge Jonathan Gibson said:" Clearly, what you did took a significant degree of planning. There is a concerning element of predatory behaviour. You were seeking these young girls out over the internet and grooming them."
Topping had admitted meeting a child following sexual grooming, abduction and three charges of sexual activity with a child at an earlier hearing.
Sara Dodd, prosecuting, said the girl told Topping over the internet she was at school and was a virgin.
In the messages he sent the teenager, the defendant repeatedly talked about having sex and coming to Lancashire for that purpose.
She expressed her affection for him and he told her he loved her. She asked at one point if they were ‘together’ and Topping said yes. The girl met the defendant and they went to a sports field in Burnley.
Miss Dodd said Topping later travelled from Widnes again, took the girl back with him, she stayed there a few days and had sex with him twice.
She had told her parents she was going to stay with a friend. A few weeks later, the girl got ready for school, but went to Burnley train station and met the defendant as she had decided to run away.
Miss Dodd said: “She put her school uniform in a nearby recycling bin and travelled to Widnes. At 10am, the girl's school contacted her mother."
Police found a telephone number for Topping and spoke to both him and the teenager.
Miss Dodd added :" Officers arrived, the defendant was there and they brought the girl back. The defendant, on arrest, said he believed she was 16, even though he knew she was at school."
Topping was cautioned in 2010 for sexual activity with a female child, of a similar age to the latest victim, but failed to comply with the notification requirements of the sex offenders register.
He has now been ordered to sign the register indefinitely and was given a sexual offences prevention order. He was banned from having unsupervised contact with any female under 16 and the order allows police to monitor his internet use.
Philip Holden, defending, said Topping had limited social skills, was poorly educated and presented as being immature for his age.
He said: “There was no coercion or threats in this particular case and no evidence of psychological damage. It's something that he very much regrets."