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Published: 00:01, 17 June 2014 |
A convicted pervert who admitted child abduction after driving a teenage girl away in his van has been jailed for two years.
Stephen Cash - who uses several aliases and has a previous conviction for voyeurism - took the girl on a journey said to have lasted no more than five minutes.
But Maidstone Crown Court was told the girl had got into his vehicle by her own freewill and both the prosecution and the defence maintained there was no sexual motive behind the offence.
And prosecutor Sarah Lindop explained 26-year-old Cash - from Ulcombe, near Maidstone - had only been charged with abducting a child because "nothing else fits" with what he did.
At the start of the hearing, she told Judge Martin Joy it was not a case of "whisking a child off the streets" or taking a child to another country.
"We all appreciate that child abduction can cover a multitude of offending and it is equally right that the girl voluntarily got into that vehicle and nobody was going to stop her," she said.
"This was a relatively short time, but I have to take account of the overall seriousness of the offence..." - Judge Martin Joy
Miss Lindop added if the case gone to trial the issue would have simply been whether the defendant knew she was under 16.
But jailing Cash, Judge Joy said the law existed to protect children and a non-custodial sentence could not be justified.
"This was a relatively short time, but I have to take account of the overall seriousness of the offence," he added.
Cash, of Pye Corner, had originally denied two offences of child abduction in July and August last year.
After pleading guilty to one charge, the other was ordered to be left on the court file.
He was convicted of voyeurism in September 2010 for looking over a toilet cubicle and is subject to the sex offenders' register.
Philip Sinclair, defending, maintained that Cash, who also uses the name Michael Collins, had only driven the girl on a short journey.
"That is what he did and that is all he did. He didn't realise he was committing an offence."
Mr Sinclair also drew the judge's attention to the case of East Sussex maths teacher Jeremy Forrest, who fled to France with a pupil and sparked an international hunt.
He was jailed for a total of five-and-a-half years, but only one year of that sentence was imposed for child abduction.
Cash will serve half his sentence less five-a-and-a-half months already spent on remand.
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