A teenager who raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl after messaging her on social media has avoided jail.
Marijuana smoker Joseph Flynn, from Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside, was 16 when he contacted the girl, sent her a photo of his penis and lured her to his house.
Flynn, now 18, was spared jail despite the court being told he posed a high risk of reoffending - after his lawyer said the teenager 'lacked understanding of consent.'
Was that his only offence, then? Reader, it was not...
The teenager, who was also found with indecent images of children, including one featuring bestiality, was sentenced to a 12-month referral order at Liverpool Youth Court on Wednesday.
Clever defence, or incompetent prosecution?
Cheryl Mottram, prosecuting, told the court the girl was struggling with her mental health at the time and felt she had done something wrong afterwards by 'getting him in trouble'. She also said she was quite clear in her account that at no point did Flynn force her to have sex, and she did say yes to him at the time.
*sighs* She can't agree, she's underage!
He was interviewed at the beginning of 2021 and answered no comment to all questions put to him and he was released on bail.
No doubt advised to do so by the defence, but if he'd known how useless the prosecution would be, he might not have bothered.
Frank Dylan, mitigating, said his client lacked understanding of sex and consent and needed to be educated. Although Flynn was assessed as a high risk of reoffending, Mr Dylan said this could be changed with help from the youth offenders service.
The odds are against it, though, aren't they?