Teenager, 18, who raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl is spared jail

Teenager, 18, who raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl after messaging her on social media is spared jail despite ‘high risk of reoffending’ – after his lawyer said he ‘lacked understanding of consent’

  • Marijuana smoker Joseph Flynn, 18, Merseyside raped a 12-year-old girl
  • He was not jailed even though he was deemed to have a high risk of reoffending 

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.

The convicted rapist, now 18, was not imprisoned even though he was deemed to have a high risk of reoffending and his lawyer admitted he lacked understanding of consent.

The teenager, who was also found with a slew of perverted photos of children, including one featuring bestiality, was sentenced to a 12-month referral order at Liverpool Youth Court on Wednesday.

The victim, now 14, said she had felt ‘lonely and vulnerable’ but said she knows ‘he can’t do anything to me ever again’.

Joseph Flynn, 18 (pictured) from Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside, raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl when he was 16 after messaging her on social media but avoided jail

She went to therapy after the rape, which left her struggling with crowded places and doing activities alone. 

She said: ‘I felt flattered that he wanted to talk to me. I thought I was going to a friend’s house. I didn’t realise how dangerous it could have been.’

She said at the time she ‘felt I should protect him as I thought he was my friend’ but has since realised ‘what he did to me was wrong’.

Her mother said she felt guilty and said her daughter had been ‘looking for a connection’ after being bullied at school.

Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of rape of a girl under 13, three counts of making indecent images of children, one count of possessing an indecent images of children and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image displaying bestiality.

Flynn first spoke to the schoolgirl over social media in early 2021. When she questioned the age gap between them, Flynn said it was fine. 

They spoke, videocalled and sent sexual messages. When Flynn asked if the girl wanted to have sex with him she replied ‘yes and no’ because of her age.

Flynn said she was ‘fit’ and sent a photo of his penis to her.

On the night she was raped, the victim’s parents returned home drunk and the girl saw her father hit her mother during an argument, she told police. 

She put her mum to bed in her sister’s room and called Flynn on FaceTime because she was upset, the court heard. 

He invited her over to his home and arranged for a taxi to pick her up near her home.

The 12-year-old said she asked her parents if she could leave the house but accepted they had been drunk and half asleep. 

When in Flynn’s bedroom they kissed and he committed a sex act on her, asked her if she wanted to have sex, and ‘then it just happened’, the court heard. She said they ‘laughed afterwards and then fell asleep’.

The girl’s mother woke up at 7.45am and noticed a message from her daughter saying she was sleeping over at a friend’s house. 

She checked her bedroom, panicked after seeing it was empty and reported her as a missing person to the police, the court heard. 

At 8.20am, the victim called her mother to say she was at her friend’s house and asked to be collected from a road that her mother did not recognise.

After she was collected, her mother thought her daughter looked pale and withdrawn so did not ask more questions, the court heard. 

She said: ‘When I picked her up the next morning I knew that something was very, very wrong. Some days it felt like I couldn’t breathe, I didn’t know what to do.’

Later that day, her mother spotted red marks on her neck that she believed to be love bites, although her daughter claimed they were burns from a curling iron.

Later, the girl told her sister she had stayed at a male friend’s house but that ‘he was gay so nothing had happened’.

On another day, she told her grandmother that she had had sex and committed sexual acts with Flynn. She became upset and punched herself in the head.

At the time the victim said: ‘He is going to get mad, he’s going to go mad, I am going to have to say sorry to him.’

The victim’s mother was told and the girl’s phone was confiscated but the 12-year-old kept saying she needed to text the boy to say sorry.  

The girl felt she had done something wrong by ‘getting him in trouble’, the court heard.

She eventually used her sister’s phone to contact Flynn.  She said Flynn never forced her to have sex and that she had said yes at the time. 

Flynn was interviewed at the beginning of 2021 and answered no comment to all questions put to him and he was released on bail.

In November 2021, police raided his home and found a cache of indecent images and videos of children, including one involving bestiality.

Flynn accepted the images were his and were sent to him after he joined a group on Snapchat. He said he thought he had deleted them.

The schoolgirl said she had sent images of herself to Flynn at his request, which were found on his phone. 

The teenager, who was also found with a slew of perverted photos of children, including one featuring bestiality, was sentenced to a 12-month referral order at Liverpool Youth Court (pictured) on Wednesday

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.

He said Flynn had been extremely isolated after he was caught and using marijuana had exacerbated mental health issues from loneliness.

Mr Dylan said: ‘We accept there is an element of denial but strong motivation to engage with the youth service. 

‘He does express concern and empathy and acknowledges wrongdoing and regret for the ordeal of the complainant.’

He added that his client also accepted that as the older person involved, he should have been the one to stop any sexual activity.

Regarding the indecent images, Mr Dylan said Flynn viewed them out of curiosity initially but accepts he did receive some sexual gratification from them.

District Judge Clark said: ‘I think you were a 16-year-old boy that had been sexually active and you set the tone.

‘You are more responsible than you make out to the youth offending team. This is an example of you taking advantage of the situation.

‘There was a sexual motive and you took advantage of her because you were more experienced and more sophisticated.

‘You set the tone, you spoke about sexual activity, you sent sexual images and you received sexual images and you already had images of a sexual nature on your phone.’

Flynn was sentenced to a 12-month referral order with the youth offending team and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order limiting his access to the internet for five years. He will be subject to notification requirements.

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