A HAMPSHIRE man groomed a schoolgirl for sex over the Internet.

Wayne Stephenson, pictured above, used the social network site Facebook to try to lure the girl, who was then 15, a court was told.

Today the 34-year-old is beginning two years in jail after it was revealed how the pair exchanged numerous messages over the Internet.

Many of the messages were explicitly sexual, the court heard.

Prosecuting, Kerry Maylin told Winchester Crown Court that he had also kissed her on the mouth.

Stephenson, of High Street, Hamble , admitted sexual assault and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Sentencing, judge Mr Recorder Jonathan Fuller QC said: “You used Facebook to groom her. The grooming only had one object, to have sexual relations with this 15-year-old girl.

“Her responses are typically the confused and sometimes unpredictable responses that should be expected of an emotional and immature teenager.

“She was almost of the age of consent but she was emotionally immature for her age. You were fully aware of her age.”

Stephenson encouraged her to delete all the messages to reduce the chance of him being caught, the court heard.

The court was told that Stephenson broke off contact with the girl, for a reason not explained in court, and sexual activity never took place.

But the matter came to light a few months later when the girl went missing from home and her parents found letters in her room. She cannot be named for legal reasons.

Richard Martin, mitigating, said: “He accepts he behaved inappropriately and his remorse continues to this day. He realised he had done something wrong and he stopped.”

He added that Stephenson had a distinguished seven-year service in the Royal Navy leaving in 2007.

For the incitement offence Stephenson was jailed for two years. For the assault he was jailed for three months to run concurrently. The judge ordered the licence period for when Stephenson is released to be extended for two years.