Man in court over child relationship

Boxing coach Graham Hebden sent sex text to an girl under 16. Pictured arriving at Hull Crown Court.
Boxing coach Graham Hebden sent sex text to an girl under 16. Pictured arriving at Hull Crown Court.

A Bridlington boxing coach who sent an underage girl 10 months of explicit messages told police he had been trained in child protection but must have forgotten it all.

Graham Hebden, 49, could be jailed after a passionate Facebook relationship with a schoolgirl in which he called her “fit” and offered to take her to York for a day out.

Hebden, of West End, 
Ulrome, near Driffield, admitted causing or inciting sexual activity with a girl over a ten-month period and was sent for sentence at Hull Crown Court by Beverley magistrates who felt their powers of imprisonment were insufficient.

Crown barrister Caroline Wiggin, prosecuting, said: “It’s clear that [the victim] was 
uncomfortable with the content of the messages she had been sent.”

She said she had been shown a selection of 25 messages that were sent, but her father had recorded a 45 minute CD disc of Facebook screenshots of the duo’s chat.

One message said: “Don’t want to sound like a pervert or a paedophile, but you’re looking fit.”

Another asked: “Are we going to have a day in York before you go back to school?”

Some messages encouraged the girl to perform sexual acts on her own, while others related to suggestions about what she should do with her boyfriend. She replied saying she was “Still as innocent as ever.” He asked her to send him pictures of her face.

After one message, the girl had replied: “What about it? I’m too young to talk about it, know about it.”

Hebden also referred to hugs and told her: “That’s two you owe me.”

Miss Wiggin said: “He accepted in interview that he had attended a child protection course, but was to suggest he’d forgotten what that taught him. He accepted he over stepped the mark.”

After temporarily adjourning proceedings for the defence to read victim impact statements, Miss Wiggin returned to court to tell the judge the father of the victim was unhappy with the way the Crown had opened the case. She said it was apparent the 25 messages were not the entirety and in some messages Hebden may have suggested they have sex.

Defence barrister Richard Thompson argued against a proposed prosecution adjournment. “In my submission, it’s almost inconceivable the police have overlooked anything that would affect the sentence in this case,” said Mr Thompson.

Judge Mark Bury said he had to balance the issues of the girl’s welfare in wanting closure of the case and the issue of whether it would be unjust to sentence without knowing all of the case.

He said: “Mr Hebden, you’ve heard what’s been going on. I can’t adjudicate in this case without having the most relevant information that’s available.

“I’m not saying that there’s more to come; I’m saying I’m told there is and if there is I should hear it. This case is an extremely sensitive one. I am not going to make any decision on sentencing yet.”

Hebden, who was released on conditional bail, is due to be sentenced on Friday, June 26.