A MAN who groomed a girl and forced her to perform a sex act on him has been jailed.

William Palmer, 23, “manipulated” the child over several months by exchanging explicit photographs on messaging app Snapchat before committing the sexual touching offence.

Palmer, of Wisteria Drive, Verwood, was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison at Bournemouth Crown Court after he admitted charges of engaging in sexual communication with a child and engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity with a child under the age of 16.

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC told the defendant that he “exploited” the teenager and “pressured” her into sending intimate pictures after he first sent an image of male genitalia.

The judge described Palmer’s actions, which developed over a “significant period of time”, as “typical manipulation” of a child.

He said there was a “significant disparity” in age between the defendant and the victim.

“You were fully aware of her age and you were fully aware that you were at risk of going to prison,” said Judge Fuller.

“Nevertheless, you continued and continued for some time.”

Prosecuting, Emma Smith said Palmer was arrested after the child disclosed what had happened to police.

In interview, he initially denied receiving or sending any pictures, stating someone must have hijacked his account.

Under further questioning, Palmer broke down in tears and admitted there had been an exchange of messages but claimed the girl had asked him to send images.

When asked about sexual activity, he again denied it before making admissions and suggesting it was consensual and instigated by the teenager.

In court, Palmer accepted this was not the case and he in fact instigated the messaging and sexual activity.

As Ms Smith outlined the facts of the case, the defendant spent long periods with his head down in the dock.

Salisbury Journal: William Palmer was jailed for two years and eight monthsWilliam Palmer was jailed for two years and eight months

Mitigating, Robert Grey said Palmer had no previous convictions and was remorseful for what he had done.

The barrister said the defendant had suffered from depression and anxiety for the past five years, adding that he lacks confidence.

Mr Grey asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence, but after jailing Palmer, Judge Fuller QC said: “Even if the sentence level was such that could be suspended, that would not be appropriate in this case.

“It would not mark the seriousness of the offence.”

Alongside the prison term, Palmer was placed on the sex offenders register.


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