A 28-YEAR-OLD man from Northampton has been jailed after sexually grooming a vulnerable teenager from Whitefield.

Ben Lawman bombarded the 15-year-old schoolgirl with messages through social media begging her to send him explicit photographs of herself and telling her they would get married and have children together.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Jonathan Savage, prosecuting, said that in November 2018, police officers were contacted by the victim's mother over concerns her daughter was being groomed by an older man.

She had noticed changes in her daughter's behaviour and in the way she dressed and used her mobile phone and once officers accessed her social media accounts they discovered a number of sexually intimate conversations between the schoolgirl and Lawman, who was aged 25 at the time.

Mr Savage said: "These were intense conversations about them having a physical relationship, getting engaged, getting married and starting a family together.

"She was urged to send explicit videos and the defendant would threaten to take his own life if they fell out."

The pair even discussed moving in together, what the first dance at their wedding would be and how they would have "between four and six children".

Lawman, of Longmead Court, Northampton, asked for explicit pictures of her wearing her school uniform and then began discussing how the pair could meet up in Manchester which they did twice in October when sexual activity took place.

The police became involved and Lawman was told to stay away but the messages persisted and he was arrested on January 11 2019.

In interview he denied sexually assaulting her, told officers he believed she was aged 18 and initially claimed his phone had been hacked.

He later said that she had touched his private parts on the second occasion they had met and admitted he had sent a number of images of himself to the girl and asked for ones in return.

Tom McKail, defending, said Lawman, who pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, meeting a child following sexual grooming and two counts of sexual activity with a child, had no previous convictions, was "lonely and isolated" and in "a dark place" at the time of the offences.

Sentencing Lawman, to 27 months imprisonment, Judge John Edwards, said: "This girl was completely in your thrall and her mother describes how she was left 'void of emotion' after this.

"A feature of your conversations was you sharing your suicidal thoughts with her in order to garner a favourable reaction. The sole purpose of this was to exploit her and gratify yourself at her expense. She was bullied and cajoled into engaging into conduct which she was simply not ready to engage in."