Published: 12:40, 04 January 2018
A convicted sex offender has narrowly avoided going straight to jail after being found living with a teenage girl.
Accountant Lana Laws was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years in February 2011 for downloading illegal images of children.
Canterbury Crown Court heard she was then called Ben Laws but "now identifies herself as a woman".
But under the restrictions she was prohibited from living in the same house as someone under the age of 18.
Prosecutor Steve Mould said police went to Laws' home in February last year and discovered he was in a relationship with the 17-year-old girl.
Laws, 34, of York Street, Ramsgate, admitted breaching the Sexual Offences Act by failing to notify police she was in a relationship.
The prosecutor said it was the fourth breach of the restrictions but Laws claimed it was out of “forgetfulness rather than malice”.
The court heard how the two met through the internet when the teenager initially claimed to be 18 years old.
John Barker, defending, said Laws had "a terribly abusive and appalling childhood" but had established her accountancy business.
Judge James O’Mahony told Laws: "You do not have a charmed life to avoid the consequences of your deliberate conduct.
"But this is not predatory sexual offending and this relationship has not been perceived as being abusive and no harm, in that sense, was involved."
Laws was given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work for the community.