Worksop: Youth worker on trial for ‘having sex with teenage girl at his office’

In Court
In Court

A youth worker has gone on trial accused of having sex with a vulnerable 15-year-old girl he was meant to be supporting.

Mark Wakeling, 46, of Portland Road, Langwith, Notts, was employed as a personal advisor at the Connexions office in Ryton Street, Worksop, a jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard.

The prosecution claims this is where he regularly had sex with the girl, after his colleagues had gone home for the day.

The alleged sexual encounters also happened at his home, while his wife and children were in bed upstairs.

He denies seven counts, including sexual activity with a child under 16, causing a child to engage in sexual activity by virtue of being in a position of trust, and sending and receiving sexualised text messages.

The charges span more than two years, between January 2009 and May 2011.

The victim, who can not be named for legal reasons, cried in court as she watched herself in a video police interview, just after she had reported the alleged crimes in 2012.

The court heard how the girl, then aged 14, had met Wakeling through the Positive Activities for Young People (PAYP) project.

“Her assessment of him was that he was easy to talk to, and she had problems at home,” said Sarah Knight, prosecuting.

He had taken her under his wing and within a fortnight had given her his personal mobile phone number, the jury heard.

Miss Knight said: “It is clear she was at a very low ebb in her life when she first became involved with Connexions.”

“This phone number gave her an easy way to make contact with Wakeling, and he could text her back to support her.”

Miss Knight said his intimacy with the teen began with hugs. Then he encouraged her to lie on the floor with him at his Ryton Street office ‘skin to skin’.

She said: “After a talk about contraception at Young Potential, another youth project in Worksop, the defendant raised the topic with her outside of the group. He hinted he wanted her to have a contraceptive implant fitted.”

“She was very worried about losing her virginity, becoming pregnant and embarking on a sexual relationship.”

“Her first sexual experience was with him at the offices in Ryton Street.”

“She told police she just lay on the floor as he had sex with her.”

Colleagues say they were concerned at the amount of time the girl was spending at the office with Wakeling.

But despite words of warning from his manager, he ‘shrugged off’ the issue.

The pair continued to text every day, the court heard, and Wakeling got her to send him sexual photos of herself. They had sex once a week over a period of several months.

In her evidence, the victim said: “At the time I did smile about it because he was helping me through things but he was taking advantage of what I was going through and basically just having sex with me.”

The court was told how Wakeling became controlling and jealous when the girl so much as looked at another male.

But even after the sexual element ceased, the pair continued to text.

And when she told him she was struggling for money, he paid substantial sums into the girl’s bank account, totalling around £1,000.

Miss Knight said it was Wakeling’s way of thanking his victim for keeping quiet and not going to the police.

The trial, before judge Philip Head, is expected to last into next week.

When defence lawyer Heidi Kubik addresses the jury, she will dispute all seven counts, saying they simply did not happen.

Continuing her prosecution case, Miss Knight said: “This is not a case of complete fabrication by a young, impressionable girl who was fixated on the defendant and fantasising about something that never happened.”

“She had not planted the texts or made up stories about their sexual intercourse. Nor did other close colleagues misinterpret what they were worried about.”

“This defendant produced himself as a respectable, hard working individual but all the time was manipulative and deceptive in getting others and his family to believe he was acting in a professional fashion. But all the while he was abusing a young girl in order to get his sexual satisfaction.”

The trial continues.

• Connexions, the court heard, was a learning and skills development service providing information, advice and guidance for young people and adults.

“Mark Wakeling’s role was to engage with and support young people, to assist them and divert them down the right track in life, building their self esteem and confidence,” said Sarah Knight, prosecuting.

The court heard his role primarily saw him organising sport and outdoor activities.

He also volunteered for a youth development project called Young Potential, based at The Regal on Carlton Road, Worksop.