A man who groomed and then raped a teenage girl has been jailed after his victim "bravely" came forward to tell police of the ordeal her attacker had subjected her to.

Richard Park, 45, had been contacting the 15-year-old girl via social media.

Park then met the victim in January 2020 and while in his car in the North Tyneside area, he forced her to perform a sex act on him.

The victim then contacted police to inform them of what Park had done and a full investigation was launched.

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The victim shared with officers numerous messages Park had sent her.

After being arrested, Park denied that any physical contact had taken place between him and the victim.

He was subsequently charged with rape of a female under 16, engaging in sexual communications with a child and child grooming.

Park, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child and child grooming, but not guilty to the rape charge, which he was convicted of following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

At the same court on Wednesday, May 10, he was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison.

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Park was also made subject of a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for the next decade.

Following Park’s sentencing, Detective Constable Karen Douglas, of Northumbria Police, said: “Park’s victim showed immense courage in coming forward to report the abuse he had put her through and we hope that his conviction helps to provide a degree of closure, enabling her to move on with her life.

“We are grateful for her and her family’s continued co-operation throughout the investigation, which has helped to put a manipulative and predatory paedophile behind bars.”

Det Con Douglas added: “Park knew his victim was underage and yet still he chose to pursue a sexual relationship with her, that is abhorrent.

“Not only did he groom and rape his victim, but he also then put her through the ordeal of a trial when he pleaded not guilty to the rape offence.

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“Thankfully the jury saw through his lies and he is now rightfully beginning a lengthy term behind bars.”

Anyone who has been a victim of rape, sexual assault or abuse is asked to contact police. It is never too late to do so. Visit the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or call 101.

Always call 999 in an emergency.