Plymouth ex-soldier is jailed for having sex with girl, 14
A MAN who had sex with a 14-year-old girl only months after he was married has been jailed for nearly six years.
Ex-soldier Stephen Noble, aged 27, groomed the teenager with hundreds of text messages before luring her to his home, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
Noble, of Kathleaven Street, St Budeaux, had earlier admitted on the eve of his trial to causing or inciting a girl aged under 16 to engage in sexual activity between February 1 and April 1 last year.
He further pleaded guilty to keeping ammunition under his bed – a souvenir from his service in Iraq.
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Judge Paul Darlow jailed him for 56 months for the sexual offence with 12 months consecutive for the ammunition offence, making a total of five years, eight months.
He said: "This was not spontaneous. There was a long period of grooming. You sent about 500 text messages and received about the same number back."
Judge Darlow said he took months to own up to his offence, leaving the girl in fear of giving evidence in court.
The youngster bravely faced up to her tormentor at the back of the court for the sentencing hearing.
David Gittins, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Noble met the girl socially some time before he was married in January 2011.
He added they exchanged hundreds of messages via text and through social networking websites.
Mr Gittins said one day in March last year the girl had a row with her parents after school and wanted to talk to Noble.
He added that he suggested she come to his home in her school uniform.
She added the girl changed but did decide to visit Noble.
Mr Gittins said Noble locked the door, led her into his bedroom and instigated sexual activity.
He added they dressed hurriedly when Noble thought his wife was coming home, though in fact there was nobody there.
The Herald understands the couple have since divorced.
The court heard Noble and the girl stayed in contact and police did not become involved until someone happened to see a message on the social networking site Facebook.
Mr Gittins said police searched Noble's home and found a mixture of spent and live ammunition under his bed.
He added Noble had been discharged from the Army because of his "poor performance".
Paul Rowsell, for Noble, said he had pleaded guilty before the girl had to give evidence. He said an alternative charge of rape had been dropped.
Mr Rowsell said: "He is a very troubled man."
Noble will also have to sign the sex offender register for life and is subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order which bans him from working with children.