A man has been given a community order after exchanging sexual messages and photos with a schoolgirl over the internet.

Leeds Crown Court heard Stephen Mark Sawyer’s offences came to light after police gained access to the girl’s phone and laptop when her mother expressed concerns about the contacts she was making.

Richard Walters prosecuting said officers had gone to the girl’s home in Huddersfield in December 2014 when she was 15 to investigate an assault allegation against another person nothing to do with Sawyer.

But their inquiries developed into looking into conversations the girl had been having on the internet as a result of which she had arranged to meet someone for sex, and she named Sawyer.

Mr Walters said the phone and computer showed Sawyer, who was then 20, had been texting her and contacting her via “hangouts” and Kick social sites as well as Skype services.

“He knew she was at school, her age and school matters were discussed. He also said he was scared of the law because he did not want to be put on a paedophiles database.”

Mr Walters said there was a discussion about meeting after school one day but he was reluctant in case she was in uniform and no meeting ever did take place.

She sent him a series of indecent photos of herself, graded at Category C, the lowest level of seriousness some of which she had apparently sent to other males as well. In return Sawyer sent her a picture of his own penis.

Leeds Combined Courts, Crown Court.

Tony Sugare representing Sawyer, of South Crosland, said the case had been hanging over him for a considerable time through no fault of his.

“This girl was not a stranger to sexual activity over the internet and there is no suggestion he was the first to encourage her in that way.”

He said police inquiries showed the girl had exchanged messages with other men some of whom had been spoken to but others were more skilful in ensuring they could not be traced while Sawyer was naïve in his dealings with her.

He was a man with two jobs, one working for a rental company and other working for a bookmaking firm at racecourses as an on course clerk and he had references in support of him.

Sawyer, 22 of Church Lane, admitted two charges of making indecent photographs and one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

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He was given a three year community order with 60 days high level activity requirement including the sex offender treatment programme and ordered to register as a sex offender for five years.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC said the offences were over the internet with a girl who was only 15 at the time. “It is true you were not the only person she was in contact with but I am dealing with you for your contact with her and you behaved in a way that was absolutely wrong as you know.”