A man who raped a 12-year-old girl after posing as a 19-year-old on Facebook has been jailed.

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Robert Fulton, 32, of Southwell Road, Lowestoft, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after previously admitting two counts of rape and another of sexual assault on a girl he met through social media.

The offences happened on December 28 last year when the two met at a park near Great Yarmouth.

Sentencing Fulton at Norwich Crown Court Judge Anthony Bate said he had “masqueraded” as a 19-year-old in Facebook conversations with the “vulnerable young lady” in sexually explicit messages which even he found shocking.

He said that while the victim sent quite explicit messages back it was “clear throughout that you were very keen indeed to meet and put into reality the explicit sexual messages that you were making to her in December 2012”.

Judge Bate said that after “pressuring” her to meet they did in a “clandestine tryst” at which point it should have been clear to him how young she was.

He said Fulton had the opportunity to “back away” or “press on” but when they met “exploited her for your own ends to the full”.

Jonathan Morgans, prosecuting, said the victim, was a vulnerable young girl who appeared to be much younger than her actual age.

In February this year she went missing from her home and police were called.

Her Facebook account was looked at and Mr Morgans said explicit messages were found between her and a man, now known to be the defendant, using a different name.

There was also mobile phone contact which was traced to the defendant.

Fulton was arrested in February and confirmed that he was using a different name on Facebook and was aged 31 at the time.

He admitted he had been having conversations of a sexual nature with the victim but said he stopped when he realised how old she was.

The court heard cell site analysis showed telephone contact between the two of them in December last year.

Mr Morgans said a text on December 28 from the defendant to the victim put pressure on her to meet up.

He said there was a “fairly constant stream of contact” up until 6.20pm and a gap until 7.04pm when they met at the park and the offences took place.

Mr Morgans said contact between the two of them continued with Fulton stating he wished the victim was younger and asking about other girl friends of hers and trying to get details.

Jonathan Goodman, mitigating, said it was a single sexual event, not a sustained attack, with all three offences occurring in the same encounter.

He said the terminology used by the victim belied her tender years but accepted when they met at the park Fulton should have known better and walked away, but did not.

Fulton was also made the subject of an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), put on the sex offenders register and banned from working with children.

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