TWO men have been jailed for a total of five years and three months for sexual activity with 14-year-old girls.
Police welcomed the sentences given to Ian Richard Hindle, 32, of Church Walk, Blackburn and Andrew Paul Wells, 49, saying they had taken advantage of the girls’ vulnerability.
Preston Crown Court heard they had invited the two girls to Wells’ Infirmary Street flat, where they had plied the pair with alcohol.
While drinking at the flat, one of the girls became ill, and went to the toilet - but was followed in by Wells who exposed himself to her.
The court heard claims that Hindle had an “affectionate and consensual” relationship with one of the girls.
But Judge Christopher Cornwall said Hindle’s age alone gave him ‘undue influence’ over the schoolgirl.
Hindle, who had earlier pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a child, was jailed for three years.
The court heard that when Hindle had first met the girl she had lied about her age, but that he had discovered the truth before having sex with her.
The court heard their relationship came to light after the girl was abused and photographed while drunk by 49-year-old Wells, who sent the pictures to Hindle’s mobile phone.
The photos later came to the attention of the girl’s mother, who called the police.
Wells, who was jailed for two years and three months, had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child and one of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
Defending, Sarah Johnston said Hindle had become aware of the girl’s age but by this time felt himself to be “in love”.
She added that no grooming had taken place and that he had made the decision to show Wells’ pictures to the girl’s mother, in spite of the risk to himself.
John Woodward, defending Wells said he had given an early guilty plea to avoid causing further distress to his victims and was “deeply remorseful”.
The pair were also disqualified from working with children and are banned from unsupervised contact with children under 16.
At court, Detective Constable Lee Eckersley said: “This sends out a clear message that sexual offences will not be tolerated.
"It is a prime example of men exploiting the vulnerability of a young girl and taking advantage for their own selfish needs.”
In 2006 the Lancashire Telegraph launched Keep Them Safe, a campaign to stop children being groomed for sex.