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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Cumbrian soldier jailed for under-age sex with girls

A soldier who had sex with two schoolgirls after taking them to a remote woodland has been sent to prison for three-and-a-half years.

Paratrooper Michael James Graham, 26, was also put on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely for what a judge at Carlisle Crown Court described as a “deeply disturbing” crime.

Graham - originally from Keswick although he has recently been based at Army barracks in South Wales - admitted two charges of sexual activity with the two under-age girls.

He also admitted downloading more than 1,700 indecent photographs of children, some as young as five.

Prosecuting counsel Nick Kennedy told the court Graham got to know the girls - one aged 14, the other 15 - on an internet dating chatroom in the summer of 2011.

Although he knew how young they were, his conversations with them soon became sexually explicit and in August 2011 he arranged to meet them in a village near Penrith.

From there all three went into the woods, the girls lay their coats on the ground and Graham had sex with each of them and committed other sex acts with them.

In mitigation, defence barrister Keith Thomas said it was clear the girls were willing.

He added Graham had only ever wanted to be a soldier but as a result of what he had done he would be thrown out of the Army in disgrace.

“And the likelihood is that finding work in civvy street is going to be very difficult for him for some time to come,” he added.

Mr Thomas said Graham was “deeply ashamed” and very much regretted the effect his behaviour had had on his family, particularly his mother. He added he now could not face going home because of the “possible repercussions”.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Davies told Graham the girls had needed to be protected, “even from themselves”.

“You are 26 and you knew how old they were - only half your age,” he said. “And you knew how vulnerable they were.

“But you corrupted and exploited them. The impact on them may not be known for many years. When they realise the position they put themselves into, when they realise the error of their ways, the psychological impact will remain with them for many, many years.”

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