A PERVERT bombarded a 12-year-old girl with text messages and sexually assaulted her after encouraging her to get a day off school.
But the girl, who had naively thought David Gardner’s text were innocent, told her parents what had happened.
The police were contacted, and Gardner was arrested in hospital, where he had been taken after taking a suspected overdose, Warwick Crown Court has heard.
The 40 year-old of Crompton Avenue, Bidford, pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and sexually assaulting her.
He was jailed for two-and-a-half years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
Prosecutor Cathlyn Orchard said after the girl’s father had bought her a mobile phone last year, Gardner gave her his number.
“He used it for a period of time to groom her towards sexual activity, messaging her many, many times.”
In his texts Gardner talked as if he was of a similar age to the girl, talking in a childish way which appeared on the face of it to be innocent, but sending her kisses and hearts.
And when, during one text exchange, she talked about having a day off school by pretending to be ill, Gardner, who had children of his own, encouraged her to do so.
When the girl succeeded in wangling a day off, Gardner saw her and began hugging and tickling her in a way which made her realise things were not as innocent as she had thought.
Scared by what had happened, and being bombarded by further texts, she later told her parents what had gone on as she continued to receive dozens of messages from Gardner who told her not to show them to anyone.
The girl’s father contacted him and told him ‘in no uncertain terms’ to stay away from her, before contacting the police.
After the confrontation with the girl’s father, Gardner had taken a number of pills and he was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was arrested.
But when he was questioned he claimed his messages and what happened when he saw the girl had been ‘entirely innocent,’ added Miss Orchard.
Jamie Strong, defending, said Gardner, who was of previous good character, lived with his parents and played an active role in the day-to-day care of his elderly father.
“He realises the greatest mitigation is his pleas of guilty. He is trying to address things through counselling which began ten days after he was arrested and interviewed.
Jailing Gardner, Judge Stephen Eyre QC told him: “I take account of the fact that you have no previous convictions and that you have a good employment record and are a good support for your father.
“But I have to sentence you for these offences, and in particular for inciting a 12-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.”