A former couple have avoided jail by the skin of their teeth after sexually abusing an under-age teen girl in Scarborough.
Claire Louise Mawson, 24, and Christopher David Foster, a 35-year-old lab technician, were staring down the barrel of an immediate jail sentence after they each admitted sexual activity with a child at a property in the town in August 2015.
But they were spared jail on Friday after a judge heard they were both now in new relationships and trying to turn their lives around.
Prosecutor Christine Egerton said the girl had been crying prior to the incident which had been instigated by Mawson, who began kissing her.
Mawson, a former carer, then touched the girl on an intimate area “for about five to 10 minutes” and kissed her once more. Foster also fleetingly touched the youngster on intimate parts of her body.
Ms Egerton said Mawson told the young victim - who cannot be named for legal reasons - not to tell anyone about what had happened.
Bizarrely, the offences finally came to light after Mawson made a complaint against Foster, her then boyfriend, and officers seized his mobile phone, on which were messages relating to the incident with the girl, who confirmed the incident had taken place.
Foster, of Newlands Park Grove, told police he had fallen asleep on the night in question and denied the allegation.
He and Mawson, of Hoxton Road, Scarborough, were each charged with one count of sexual activity with a child on August 23, 2015. Mawson owned up at the first time of asking. Foster entered a belated guilty after initially denying the offence.
They appeared for sentence on Friday when the court heard that the victim’s school work had been affected and she had not done as well as expected in her exams as a result of the incident.
“She has nightmares and that reminds her of the incident,” said Ms Egerton. “It’s affected her relationship with everybody; she feels she can’t trust anybody.”
Taryn Turner, for Mawson, said her client was now in a new relationship and had recently become a mother.
“She is haunted by what took place on that particular night (three-and-a-half years ago),” added Mrs Turner.
She said Mawson had had to give up her work as a carer after the offences came to light and was now unemployed.
Andrew Semple, for Foster, said the father-of-one, like Mawson, had no previous convictions, and he too was in a stable new relationship.
Character references attested to Foster being a “caring and thoughtful” man who had acted “out of character” on the night in question. He vehemently denied Mawson’s allegation that Foster had a “controlling influence” over her.
Mr Semple described Foster’s relationship with Mawson as “toxic” and one that was based “very much on (sexual) fantasy”.
“The two of them were bad for each other and egged each other on (sexually), said Mr Semple.
He said it was the incident with the teenage girl that led to the breakdown of their relationship, as well as Foster losing his job as a laboratory technician.
Judge Paul Worsley QC told Mawson her actions against the young girl were “unforgiveable”.
He told Foster: “You too abused that girl. There’s little wonder that her life has been turned upside down.”
Foster was given a 14-month prison sentence suspended for two years. Mawson received a two-year suspended jail term.
Both defendants were ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years and made subject to a sexual-harm prevention order. In addition, they were each ordered to engage in a 30-day rehabilitation programme.
Mr Worsley QC told them they had come “very close” to going to prison but had been saved by mitigating factors including Mawson’s own vulnerabilities and the fact she was now a mother.