Man guilty of grooming under-age girls on Facebook

St Helens Star: Stephen Sumner used Facebook to groom the girls Stephen Sumner used Facebook to groom the girls

A YOUNG St Helens man has been convicted of sexual activity with three under-age girls after grooming them via Facebook.

Stephen Sumner was found guilty of seven charges by a Liverpool Crown Court.

But a jury cleared him of raping another girl and one charge of sexual activity with one of the other three girls.

He carried out his indecent activities over a two and a half year period and the major of the incidents happened in the bedroom of his flat, said David Potter, prosecuting.

Mr Potter said: "With each of the children sexual activity was preceded by a period of grooming.

"He would engage in discussions with them on Facebook and text encouraging them to meet him and having done that a few times he invited them around to his flat where it was his intention to commit sexual acts.

"He knew at all material times that each of the three young complainants were under 16 and he knew he would be committing sexual offences."

Sumner, of Holbrook Close, Sutton, denied the nine charges involving one charge of rape, three of grooming and five offences of sexual activity with a child.

The jury took more than six hours to return their verdicts.

Sumner was further remanded in custody to await sentence.

Judge Denis Watson, QC, who ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders Register, said that a pre-sentence report would assess his risk to the public and warned him: "You are at risk of a substantial sentence."

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