A 21-year-old man from Newtown who groomed and engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl has been sent to a young offenders’ institution for 16 months.

Connor Vowles, who was aged 19 at the time, admitted allowing the 13-year-old, who had been reported missing by her foster carer, to stay at his flat.

Prosecuting barrister Andrew Green said that the girl had a love bite on her neck but denied she had any sexual contact with Vowles.

But police officers found 300 phone messages exchanged between the pair, which included him finding details of train times so she could travel to Newtown.

Vowles told police that he had first met the girl when she visited the area with her family.

He admitted to knowing how old she was and “didn’t seem to think that it was odd that she was 13”.

Mold Crown Court was told the pair kissed, cuddled and undressed but did not touch each other’s genitals.

“But he said he was sexually aroused and she was. It went on for a few hours although they didn’t engage in full sex,” said Mr Green.

An iPad taken off a second girl, aged 14, who it emerged also stayed at Vowles’ flat showed 292 messages were exchanged between her and the defendant, some of which discussed them having anal sex.

Vowles, 21, of Lon Gwern, Newtown admitted grooming a girl aged 13 between September and October 2016 and meeting a girl for sex, having met or communicated with her previously.

He also pleaded guilty to a charge of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Mr Philip Clemo said Vowles’ life had been chaotic and he had been drinking and taking drugs.

“Substance abuse was a real feature and he was without a real home. He now lives with his mother and siblings,” said Mr Clemo.

“He has broken up with a recent girlfriend as she was training to be a teacher and he felt the relationship with him might affect her. Perhaps that is a sign of his growing maturity.”

Judge Niclas Parry placed Vowles under the restrictions of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and told him: “This case highlights the dangers of social media. You deliberately targeted these two girls knowing they were in care.

“You knew the difference in age.”