A cowardly sex offender who groomed a teenage girl has been put behind bars for 10 years.
Thirty-two-year-old Thomas Todd befriended the victim and bought her presents before sexually assaulting her in 2017.
The victim courageously spoke to police officers in May 2018 after telling her mother Todd had abused her.
Todd refused to admit his offending to police and subjected the victim to a trial and lengthy court proceedings.
He then failed to attend court for the final days of the trial and was tracked down by police in Scotland following a manhunt.
Todd, of HMP Nottingham, was found guilty of sexual assault and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court.
He was jailed for a total of 10 years when he appeared for sentencing on Friday (1 December).
Todd’s offending began in the summer of 2017 when he started sending the victim messages asking her where she was and who she was with.
She later told detectives he treated her like ‘his girlfriend’ even though he was aware of her age.
He bought her gifts and sexually assaulted her when they were left alone.
Detective Constable Shelley Christian, of Nottinghamshire Police, said:
“The courage of the victim in telling her mother and then coming forward to police stands in stark contrast to the cowardly offending and behaviour of Todd.
“He targeted the girl and sexually assaulted her after plying her with jewellery, clothing and other gifts. He was fully aware of her age and knew the devastating impact his offending could have on her.
“After Todd was arrested, he continued to deny his crimes and subjected the victim to an even longer period of anxiety and uncertainty.
“He then skipped court and made further desperate attempts to avoid being brought to justice.
“I’d like to commend the victim for helping us throughout the investigation which has resulted in Todd being brought to account for his crimes.
"I hope this conviction will provide reassurance to other victims of sexual offences, giving them the confidence to report, and reassuring them that they will always be listened to by the force and be supported by specially trained officers when they report offences of this nature.
“We will support you every step of the way and ensure that we investigate and leave no stone unturned to bring perpetrators to justice.
“The safeguarding of children is of paramount importance to Nottinghamshire Police.
"We are committed to preventing child sexual exploitation and will be relentless in apprehending those responsible and holding them to account for their crimes.”
Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation should call Nottinghamshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always dial 999.