'˜Grow up and be more careful' judge tells former Daventry man with '˜preference for girls much younger than him'

A former Daventry man who 'has a preference for girls much younger than him' has been jailed for breaching a court order for the fourth time after spending a night in a park with an underage girl.

Monday, 23rd May 2016, 8:54 am
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2016, 10:01 am
Warwick Crown Court. NNL-160414-153917001

Ashley Dowd had originally denied breaching the Sexual Offences Prevention Order, imposed in 2009 when he was sentenced for having sex with an under-age girl.

But Dowd, 25, formerly of Hillary Close, Abbey Fields, Daventry, changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court.

And following an adjournment for attempts to be made to find a place for him at a suitable probation hostel, which were unsuccessful, he was jailed for 15 months.

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The court had heard that in October 2009 Dowd had been given a 12-month suspended sentence at Northampton Crown Court for sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl.

He was also made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for seven years, banning him from having unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 16, because of concerns for his expressed preference for girls much younger than himself.

Prosecutor Raj Punia said that in June last year Dowd and the schoolgirl spent the next few hours together, with both of them smoking and Dowd also drinking, before she left to go home in the early hours of the morning.

After the police were then informed about an unrelated matter it became clear that Dowd had been in her company on that evening in breach of the order, said Miss Punia.

When he was arrested Dowd accepted he was aware of the conditions of the SOPO, but claimed that although he was in her company, he believed she was over the age of 16.

But he agreed he had not taken any steps to establish her age – and he entered his plea on the basis that he thought she was 16, but should have checked.

Miss Punia added that it was the fourth time Dowd had breached the order since 2009, when he was also ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

No action was taken in April 2011 when he breached it the first time, but the following month he was jailed for nine months for a second breach.

There was then a further breach in 2013, for which he was jailed for 28 months.

Sarah Holland, defending at the resumed hearing, said: “This was just carelessness on his part. He knows he should have asked the girl how old she was, and he’s paid the price for his mistake, having been in custody since September.”

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones observed that, because of the time Dowd had been in custody, “any sentence of 16 months or less means he will be immediately released”.

And he told Dowd: “You have really already been punished for what you’ve done. In order to avoid further punishments, you’re going to have to grow up and be more careful.

“In the future people may say he says it’s a mistake, but that he has a thing for young girls.”