Predator groomed and raped teenage girl in his car in North Tyneside

Richard Park, 45, has been jailed for grooming and raping a teenage girl. Credit: Northumbria Police

A man who groomed and raped a teenage girl after finding her on social media has been jailed.

Richard Park, 45, met the girl in January 2020 when she was just 15. While in his car in the North Tyneside area, he forced her to perform a sex act on him.

Northumbria Police praised the girl after coming forward and sharing the numerous messages she had been sent by Park.

Following Park’s sentencing, Detective Constable Karen Douglas, of Northumbria Police, said: "Park’s victim showed immense courage in coming forward to report the abuse he had put her through and we hope that his conviction helps to provide a degree of closure, enabling her to move on with her life.

"We are grateful for her and her family’s continued co-operation throughout the investigation, which has helped to put a manipulative and predatory paedophile behind bars."

After being arrested, Park had denied that any physical contact had taken place between him and the victim.

He was charged with rape of a female under 16, engaging in sexual communications with a child and child grooming.

Park, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child and child grooming, but not guilty to the rape charge, which he was convicted of following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court. 

At the same court on Wednesday 10 May, he was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Park was also handed a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will be on the Sex Offenders' Register for the next decade.

Detective Constable Douglas added: "Park knew his victim was underage and yet still he chose to pursue a sexual relationship with her, that is abhorrent.

"Not only did he groom and rape his victim, but he also then put her through the ordeal of a trial when he pleaded not guilty to the rape offence.

"Thankfully the jury saw through his lies and he is now rightfully beginning a lengthy term behind bars."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...