AN 18-YEAR-OLD man who groomed schoolgirls on Facebook for sex has been jailed for 40 months.

Chester Crown Court heard on Friday how Lewis Thorpe travelled by train from his Nottingham home to meet 14-year-old girls in Warrington to coerce them into having sex.

He added them as ‘friends’ on Facebook, taking one to have sex on fields at Bennetts Rec, Padgate.

Sentencing Thorpe to a Young Offenders Institute, Judge Andrew Hatton said: “Your victims you met through Facebook and you had cultivated their friendship with a view to having sexual intercourse.

“I anticipate all three victims blame themselves and they should not.

“They should blame an 18-year-old man who should know better.

“You made determined efforts to have sex with girls you knew were only 14 years of age.

“You clearly have a fascination of having sex with girls of a young age.

“You knew it was wrong.”

Thorpe, of Gritts Common, Cottsgrave, cried when the verdict was delivered, and sobbed ‘oh my God’.

The court heard he was planning to become a student at the University of Chester.

He targeted school girls during the summer holidays in July last year.

Conversations quickly turned sexual with the defendant asking for pictures of them dressed in underwear, and arranging meetings.

He told the first victim he was 16, having consensual sex with her at his home address.

Afterwards he asked her to leave as his dad was returning home from work, and told her directions of how to get to a bus stop.

His second victim lived in Warrington, and knew he was 18.

Also 14, she met him at Warrington Central train station on September 16.

He took her to fields on Bennetts Rec, where they had sex.

The court heard she was ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘frightened’, but did not voice any concerns.

She reminded him she was 14, and he said it ‘didn’t bother him’.

He met the third victim on October 10 in Warrington.

The defendant became angry when the girl refused sex as he had gone to Asda at the Cockhedge Centre to buy condoms, the court heard.

Police were called by her parents who wanted to know where she was, finding Thorpe with her and escorting him back to the train station.

An investigation was launched and found the other victims.

Thorpe pleaded guilty on February 3 to two counts of sexual activity with a child under the age of 16, and one count of meeting a female child under the age of 16 following sexual grooming.

Defending, David Rose, said Thorpe had broken down in tears during the police interview.

He said: “He was deeply distressed and shamed.

“He is a young man with supportive parents...a work ethic, hoping to go to university, courteous on every occasion I have seen him.”