Man, 43, jailed for sex offences against teenage girl

'Dangerous offender': Paul Smith
'Dangerous offender': Paul Smith

A man is starting a four-and-a-half year prison sentence for sexual offences against a teenage girl, following an investigation by Sussex Police safeguarding detectives.

Paul Smith, 43, unemployed, of Howlett Drive, Hailsham, was found guilty and sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday, June 13, for two counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

The court heard that he lied to a vulnerable 15-year-old schoolgirl who he had met in the street, convincing her that he was 23. He then groomed her into starting a sexual relationship with him over several weeks in the summer of 2016.

His offending came to light when police received anonymous information from a third party about what was happening to the girl.

Smith will also be a registered sex offender for life, and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) severely restricting his access to young people for life.

Detective Constable James Brown of the Eastbourne-based Safeguarding Investigations Unit, said: “Paul Smith is clearly a predatory sexual offender who targeted and exploited a vulnerable young girl for abuse and for his own sexual gratification.

“We would like to thank the victim for her courage in supporting the prosecution and giving evidence. Her actions have undoubtedly resulted in a dangerous offender being identified and taken off the streets.

“Anyone who has concerns about child sexual exploitation, whether as victim, family member, or with any other information, can contact us at any time online or by calling 101, and arrange to talk in confidence to experienced investigators.”

Further information and sources of advice and support about child sexual exploitation are also available on the Sussex Police website.