Paedophile Damien Howes sexually groomed 13-year-old girl online
PAEDOPHILE Damien Howes sexually groomed a 13-year-old girl online and convinced her to run away from home.
When their daughter disappeared after a family argument, her frantic family reported her missing, desperately tried to contact her with text messages and searched her room for clues.
Police found a scrapbook in her room with Howes' name and address in Cheltenham and raided his home in the early hours of June 27, where they found him fully clothed in his bed.
Howes, 24, of Clevedon Square, Rowanfield, posed as a 17-year-old boy on a dating website and told her he loved her and "wanted to hold you and never let go".
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The girl had been convinced to board a National Express ticket from her home town in Basingstoke, prosecutor Nick Fridd told Gloucester Crown Court.
Mr Fridd told the court Howes tried to claim she was his cousin. He insisted she had told him she was "17 going on 18".
Howes pleaded guilty to sexually grooming the girl with an intention to have intercourse with her and was jailed for two years. Mr Fridd told the court that Howes had initially made contact with the girl on a teenaged dating site and then began texting her and ringing her.
She treated him just as a friend, but he began talking to her as if she were his girlfriend, said Mr Fridd.
"She began to look on it as a real relationship.
"There were long daily phone calls. Grooming it certainly was," he said.
She initially told him she was 15, but she then admitted she was 13 and reminded him of that again later.
Despite that, he sent her sexually graphic messages.
In one message he said: "I can't wait to hold you and never let go."
She replied: "Cute."
He responded: "It's not cute, it's because I love you, I want to be with you till I die."
Mr Fridd said the girl took a coach to Heathrow then changed there and went to Cheltenham.
"She was a 13-year-old making a 10-hour journey alone," he said.
When she arrived, Howes told her he would not ask her for sex on their first night. The next day he said he wanted to make love to her, but she continually refused his pleas.
The court heard he had a previous conviction as a 14-year-old for indecent assault of a young girl.
Jailing Howes, Judge Jamie Tabor QC said Howes represented a danger to girls.