“It’s most unfortunate that it’s actually a crime, but it’s an unhappy situation for everyone involved,” said a judge as he sentenced a 25-year-old man for the abduction of a Doncaster schoolgirl.
The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, sentenced Thomas Fallon to three months in prison for one count of child abduction - but told him he would most likely be released immediately due to the two months he has already spent in prison on remand.
During this morning’s hearing at Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Richardson told Fallon: “You’ve been very foolish.”
The court heard how Fallon and the 15-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, struck up a friendship this summer, which progressed into what the girl described as a ‘sort of relationship’.
“There was kissing and cuddling, but no sexual activity,” said prosecutor, Neil Coxon.
Mr Coxon described how instead of returning to her Doncaster home as expected on September 22, she travelled to Harrogate to meet Fallon, and they went to stay at the home of one of his friends.
The couple made the decision to move on after Fallon’s friend was informed of the girl’s age by her mother, who he spoke to on the phone, and subsequently suggested they should heed her mother’s advice and go back to Doncaster.
Mr Coxon said: “The girl wanted to go to London and the defendant wanted to go to Scotland, so they went to Edinburgh where they stayed with another of his friends.
“She slept in the bed, and Mr Fallon and his associate slept on the sofa.
“That lasted for about four or five days. He had other friends staying with him, so he gave them a tent and they effectively camped outside.”
A nationwide appeal was circulated to find the couple after the girl’s mother raised the alarm.
The court heard how they were finally tracked when a café owner called the police on September 30, after becoming ‘suspicious of the dynamic’ between them.
Fallon, of Mayfield Grove, Harrogate, has a number of previous convictions for offences concerning violence, drugs and dishonesty, the court heard.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of child abduction at an earlier hearing.
Judge Richardson said of the case: “They ran off together, it shouldn’t have happened. She’s 15, and he’s 25...it sounds as though he behaved entirely properly towards her.
“It’s most unfortunate that it’s a crime, but it’s an unhappy situation for everyone involved.”
Turning to Fallon, Judge Richardson said: “Although her mother was understandably concerned about what happened, the reality is you behaved entirely properly.
He added: “You have been more than adequately punished over the last few months by being on remand for your foolish and criminal acts. The girl went entirely voluntarily, there was no coercion on your part. Furthermore, there was no sexual impropriety. It was, however, very foolish.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, Fallon said to Judge Richardson: “I think you’ve been fair, thank you.”