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Ex-Oldham Athletic footballer Jack Tuohy denies sex offences against 14-year-old

An ex-Oldham Athletic footballer took sexual advantage of a 14-year-old girl who had "a crush" on him after he "bullied" her into meeting up, a jury has heard.

Jack Tuohy first met the "football mad" teenager at a schools' tournament hosted by the English Football League One club in 2015 before he went on to commit sexual offences against her later the same year, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was told.

The complainant watched on at the tournament in her school uniform and saw Tuohy hand out medals to pupils before, she said, he initiated contact with her on social media shortly after.

The Crown say Tuohy went on to groom the youngster, who on one occasion sent him a topless selfie photograph, before they engaged in sexual activity in his car parked in a secluded location in Oldham.

It is alleged that Tuohy, who was aged 19 at the time, encouraged the "starstruck" teenager to overcome her "youthful reluctance" and meet him in person.

Benjamin Jones, prosecuting, said: "The serious aspect of this case is that the evidence will show the defendant took advantage of a girl with a crush on a footballer.

"The evidence will show the defendant pressurised - effectively bullied - her into meeting him.

"The evidence will show that the defendant knew her age throughout. He disputes that of course.

"The evidence will show the defendant has been dishonest in every step of the investigation of this case."

Mr Jones said Tuohy initially told police no sexual activity took place and then claimed there was "kissing and cuddling, nothing more" after telling detectives he "panicked" when shocked to learn of the girl's age from them.

Tuohy finally conceded that sexual activity between the pair happened in his car, said the prosecutor, but he maintained throughout that he believed she was aged 16 and said in one interview: "It looks like I've been led on."

In her videoed police interview, played to the jury, the complainant said the defendant messaged her on Facebook after the schools' tournament but she said she did not know how he knew her name.

She said they went on to have regular online conversations and that she told him she was 14 when he asked her how old she was, the court heard.

The teenager said she sent him a topless photograph of herself after Tuohy said he would "fall out" with her if she did not and end their contact.

She said he went on to send her a photograph of his penis.

The girl told the interviewing officer she considered Tuohy and her were "just friends". When asked if she wanted it to be more, she replied: "Maybe when I'm older, the right age."

She said she finally agreed to meet him because she concluded "it was my only chance".

Tuohy, 20, of Arthur Street, Shaw, Oldham, denies two counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child, two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of meeting a child following sexual grooming.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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