Padiham builder guilty of sex with girl, 14

Michael Booth (s)
Michael Booth (s)
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A PADIHAM builder is facing jail after paying to have sex with a vulnerable 14-year-old girl who had been plied with alcohol and crack cocaine.

Michael Booth (44), of Moor Lane, was found guilty of assault and paying for the sexual services of a child by a jury following a trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Leanne Gilder (26), of Radcliffe Street, Chadderton, Oldham, was found guilty of controlling child prostitution.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Gilder took £60 from kerb-crawler Booth after he molested the 14-year-old in the back of his Transit van – and then took a call from him the following day when he asked if the child was “doing business.”

Gilder, who has two young children, claimed the girl had led her to believe she was 18. She wept as she was found guilty of controlling child prostitution but she was cleared of inciting child prostitution after the jury heard the girl had been moved on from a red light district in Manchester on another occasion.

Gilder had denied all the charges alongside Booth.

Booth had admitted having an intimate encounter with the girl, but also insisted that she told him she was of legal age.

Booth appeared stunned as he was found guilty of assault and paying for the sexual services of a child.

Judge Michael Henshell ordered both defendants to sign the sex offenders register and said jail sentences were “inevitable.”

They will be sentenced in July.

The court had previously heard that Gilder had said Mr Booth was a “punter” who they picked up while working as prostitutes behind Piccadilly train station, and that she had never met him before the night of the alleged attack.

Asked if the girl had been willing, she answered: “Yes, very much so.

“She knew what she were doing.”

Miss Gilder told the court that she had got into Mr Booth’s van to “keep guard” over the teenager.

She said she had begun working as a prostitute as she fled an abusive relationship.

Gilder told the court that she had met up with the girl at a drop-in centre in Piccadilly in October 2010, they had gone to Oldham to “get ready” and smoke crack cocaine before going Manchester’s red-light district, where they met Booth.

She said the girl had been “laughing and joking” after the £60 encounter with Mr Booth, and had gone “partying” afterwards.

Speaking in his defence, Booth said he was a habitual user of prostitutes at the time and always asked their ages for “peace of mind.” He said that the girl had appeared “sober” and “normal” during his encounter with her, and that she had been laughing with Miss Gilder when he dropped her off.

Mr Booth added: “She looked over 18 to me.”