Published Thursday, 15 November 2012
Matthew Leckey was ordered to sign the sex offenders register for ten years. (© UTV)
Ordering 22-year-old Matthew Leckey to spend half in custody and half on licence, Belfast Crown Court Judge David McFarland told him the girl was incapable of consenting to sex and that legislation was there because "young people have to be protected, essentially, from themselves".
Earlier he heard that in December last year, Leckey met the girl through Facebook when he saw her profile and thought she was attractive.
Prosecuting lawyer Kate McKay said the girl, who claimed to be 18 on her profile page, had listed her mobile number so the pair began sending sexually explicit texts to each other and eventually met in the north of the city two days later.
They had sex behind a bush, said the lawyer, but stopped because there were too many people around so decided to get a bus to Leckey's flat and it was when she asked for a child's ticket that Leckey first became aware of her true age.
Sitting on the bus together holding hands, the teenager told Leckey she was only 13 years old but despite this, he took her back to his flat on the Ballygomartin Road and twice had sex with her.
Ms McKay told the court the offences came to light the next day when the girl's family became concerned when she did not return home, adding that when she left with her aunt she told Leckey "love you".
Arrested and interviewed Leckey, from Cairndale in the Forthriver Drive area of Belfast, told police that once they arrived at his flat the girl had "jumped him" and that all the sexual contact had been consensual.
He later pleaded guilty to two offences of sexual activity with a child involving penetration on dates between 6-9 December 2011.
As well as the jail term, Judge McFarland ordered Leckey to sign the police sex offenders register for the next ten years and also imposed a ten-year sexual offences pervention order barring Leckey from having unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 without express written permission from their parents.