A man in his 20s engaged in a night of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl after arranging to meet her at a city centre hotel following online grooming.

Durham Crown Court heard that the girl told her mother she was going to stay at a friend’s house on the night of Friday, July 21 this year.

But it emerged she spent the night with defendant Luis Gomes at a hotel in Durham, where they took part in sexual activity.

Lee Fish, prosecuting, said at one point the girl was reported as missing by her concerned family.

The Northern Echo: Portuguese national Luis Gomes, living in Lancashire, arranged  meeting in a Durham hotel with a

But the following day the girl contacted her mother and asked to be picked up.

On meeting her daughter her mother noticed she had love bites on her neck and the girl was reluctant to say where she had been.

Mr Fish said that following further questioning the girl revealed she had been with a man she met online.

It was reported to police and the girl told officers she met a man she referred to as ‘Lee’, on Snapchat one or two months earlier, but not all the messages exchanged between the pair were found.

Twenty-four-year-old Gomes was arrested and made admissions to sexual grooming behaviour.

Read more: Man to be sentenced after admitting 12 sexual offences at court in Durham

He said he added the girl to his contacts on Snapchat and she added him.

In the exchange of messages, she quickly revealed she was 13, but he made it clear in response that, “it didn’t bother him”.

Mr Fish said there had been a general online discussion between the pair about the age difference but soon the tenor of the messaging became sexual.

“It was clear he had in mind penetrative sexual activity and explicit images were exchanged.

“He asked her to touch herself sexually and sent messages to her of himself which the prosecution say was, ‘classic grooming behaviour’.”

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Mr Fish said the conversation moved on to arranging the liaison, leading to the rendezvous at the hotel on the night of July 21.

He said the pair went to their hotel bedroom, where there was kissing and then both undressed.

He said sexual intercourse took place on at least three occasions, the girl’s first sexual experience, before they cuddled on the bed for the rest of the night.

“The following day she eventually made contact with her mother who had reported her missing.

“She met her in Durham and disclosed what happened.”

The defendant was arrested and in interview days later revealed the name he knew the girl by, which was not her actual name, and which he used on his mobile phone between July 11 and 20.

Mr Fish said Gomes sent the girl 13 explicit videos of himself performing a sex act while she sent him indecent images of herself which he had on his phone.

They were classed in all three categories of severity in terms of indecent imagery of a child.

In a victim statement read to the court the girl said she had been confused as to how she should feel, lapsing from being “fine” one moment to “very upset” the next, and reacting, “angrily”.

She said she felt “numb” and “angry”, “on the edge all the time”.

The girl added: “I trusted him and he used me.”

Gomes, of Skelmersdale in Lancashire, who has been on remand in Durham Prison since his arrest, admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child, two of causing a child to watch a sexual act, one each of sexual communication with a child and meeting a child following grooming, plus three of possessing indecent images of a child, at a plea hearing on August 30.

Gomes appeared via video link from the prison for the sentencing hearing.

His counsel, Alaric Walmsley told the court: “The best point I can make on his behalf is that he admitted it in interview and indicated ‘guilty’ pleas when he appeared before magistrates and then made ‘guilty’ pleas at the plea hearing.

“He’s of previous good character and he indicates remorse.”

Judge James Adkin told Gomes: "You have to be sentenced  for a catalogue of sexual offences against a vulnerable 13-year-old girl you met on Snapchat."

He said it had an impact on the victim psychologically, having used “grooming” behaviour.

Judge Adkin said an aggravating feature was the disparity in age, the fact he took advantage of a vulnerable child, who suffered “some injury” in the process.

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Imposing a six-year prison sentence, Judge Adkin said the defendant would serve half in custody and upon release, as a Portuguese national, he may then be deported.

Regardless of his immigration status, the judge made Gomes subject to a restraining order and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for 20 years.

He will also have to register as a sex offender, indefintitely.