Padiham builder 'paid to have sex with 14-year-old'

First published in Burnley Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

AN East Lancashire builder paid to have sex with a 14-year-old schoolgirl, a court heard.

He gave the money to a woman who had plied her with drink and crack cocaine.

Michael Booth handed over £60 to Leanne Gilder, 26, who is alleged to have set up the girl to be molested after giving her booze and drugs.

Gilder was said to have seen the victim as a 'useful source of cash'.

The girl described her ordeal to police after she was found at an address in Oldham.

Booth, 43, of Moor Lane, Padiham, admits having an intimate encounter with the girl in the back of his van - but said he thought she was 18. Gilder, in a trial at Manchester Crown Court. denies exploiting her.

The youngster graphically described the alleged ordeal in a videoed police interview shown to the jury.

She said: "I must have conked out and when I woke up he was just pulling up his pants...I didn't give any consent. Leanne pimped me out because she got money over me getting raped. I didn't even know what was happening, I didn't want it. I was coked out of my head."

Asked how she felt, she added: "I was scared - I wanted my mum."

It is alleged that late on the evening of October 19, 2010, the youngster travelled into Manchester and met Gilder, who she says she had met twice previously, at a drop-in centre in Piccadilly.

It is alleged she agreed to go to Oldham with Gilder, who gave her booze before taking her to an address at Lynn Street, where the youngster took cocaine.

The pair are said to have then walked to Manchester's Gay Village in the early hours, where Gilder is alleged to have told the girl to get in the back of Booth's Ford Transit Connect.

The court heard the youngster told police that after she was sexually assaulted Miss Gilder said to her 'you've just made me £60'.

Booth is alleged to have turned up in Oldham later that day expecting to have sex with the girl again, but she refused.

Richard Orme, defending Gilder, put it to the girl that she had told a 'pack of lies'.

Mr Orme highlighted occasions when she could have alerted police or run away from Miss Gilder in the aftermath of the alleged attack.

She was found at Lynn Street by police the next day. Mr Orme said records do not support her claim that she called them to the property, and the court heard she gave an officer a false name.

The court was also told she was 'moved on' from Manchester's 'red light district' about a month after the alleged attack.

Leanne Gilder, 26, of Radcliffe Street, Chadderton, denies causing or inciting child prostitution and controlling a child prostitute.

Booth denies sexual assault, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and paying for the sexual services of a child.

Booth, who was not arrested until last September, told police he had picked up Gilder and the girl behind Piccadilly railway station.

He says the girl told him she was 18, and that he had a consensual encounter with her in the back of his van, before she got out laughing with Gilder. The court heard CCTV and phone evidence which Booth said would support his story was no longer available.

Katherine Pierpoint, defending Booth, put it to the girl she had played a 'full and active role' in prostituting herself, which she strongly denied. She said she refused to be examined by a doctor after the alleged attack because he was male, not because she made up the allegations.

Booth said he had not known the girl was under 18 and had no reason to believe she was any younger. He said he asked them how old they were and “the older girl said she was 20-odd and the younger one said she was 18.

“I always ask how old they are for my own peace of mind.”

The court heard that Booth had been stopped by police in the red light districts in Blackburn in February 2008 and in Burnley in August 2011.

He said he used prostitutes for “once or twice a week” for several years.

Proceeding

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