A ‘coercive and controlling’ teenager groomed and had sex with an 11-year-old girl when he was just 16, telling her he would kill himself if she didn’t comply.

Adrian Tillotson, now 19, appeared at Burnley Crown Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to five counts of assaulting a girl under the age of 13 by penetration.

The court heard how the offences dated between March and August 2020, when the defendant was 16 and his victim between the ages of 11 and 12.

Prosecuting, Francis McEntee said he first engaged in sexual activity with the schoolgirl just before her 12th birthday, and this continued for a number of months after.

He told the court: “At first, she said the attention she received from someone older made her feel special, the feeling she got knowing she was doing things other girls her age were not doing.

“He was able to persuade such a young child to engage in sex. He would treat her as his girlfriend until such moments like his friends finding out.

Lancashire Telegraph: Adrian TillotsonAdrian Tillotson (Image: Lancs Police)

“This reveals an awareness by the defendant that he was engaging in a relationship that he should not have been.

“Throughout the course of this relationship he manipulated her affections by making threats to self-harm when she didn’t respond positively.

“Initially she contacted him via Instagram in 2019, and they became friends but around two months later he asked if they could have sex and she said yes.

“This was an exchange with a girl who was 11-years-old.”

Mr McEntee said they had sex not long after, some time in March, and then Tillotson asked her to send him pictures of her private parts.

They had sex again while she was still 11, but on this occasion, Mr McEntee said the girl had expressed reluctance, with Tillotson telling her they would “break up, as if she didn’t want to have sex with him she must not find him attractive, and then he said he would kill himself if she didn’t”.

Mr McEntee went on: “She felt upset and didn’t want the defendant to feel the way he did.

“Then, during lockdown he asked for more pictures of her private parts and told her he needed them to masturbate as he wouldn’t be able to have children in the future if he didn’t, and made more threats to kill himself.

“His victim said this exchange made her feel pathetic and she thought it was her fault he was going to kill himself.”

The pair continued to have sex after she turned 12, between May and August 2020, but things unravelled after she told a friend, and soon her mother found out.

Mr McEntee said: “He put pressure on her saying he couldn’t go through a police investigation and she should lie about the relationship otherwise he would have to kill himself as his life would be f****d.

“He then told police he was forced into having sex with her due to threats made by her. And said he was aware of her age but didn’t really know exactly how old she was until she turned 12.”

The girl, who is now 15, said it took her a while to realise she was in a controlling relationship and she now struggles with her day-to-day activities, has lost confidence and sleeps for long periods of time.

In a statement read to the court, Mr McEntee said the girl’s mother had even had to hide some of her medication from her daughter following two attempts by her to take her own life.

She was constantly accused of being a liar and was bullied as a result.

Ellen Shaw, defending Tillotson, said the case had taken a while to come to court, and her client had been 16 at the time, although he entered his guilty pleas when he was 18, and was of previous good character.

She said the delay was not his fault and there had been repercussions for him in the community since the offences came to light.

Judge Sara Dodd, sentencing, said: “I bear in mind that you were only 16 at the time but it was still grooming, or coercion, in this case.”

Tillotson, of Springfield Avenue, Earby, Barnoldswick, was jailed for three years and four months.

He was made subject to indefinite notification requirements, an indefinite restraining order and was handed a 10 year sexual harm prevention order.