A MONSTER has been caged after raping his pregnant 12-year-old “wife” after setting up home with her in Essex.
The 25-year-old, of Romany gypsy background, illegally married the girl in their native country last year before moving to the UK.
He was today jailed for six years after admitting having sex with a child under the age of 13.
The man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, now wants to rekindle his relationship with the girl when he is out of prison.
She is thought to have moved back to Romania and is just weeks away from giving birth, the court was told.
Jamie Sawyer, prosecuting, explained the age of consent in Romania is 16 – the same as the UK.
He added: “[The couple] met in Romania and in the victim’s view, no one complained about the age gap between them.
“She has gone back to Romania, and the defendant says how he has a wish to reignite that relationship when he is able.”
Their illegal marriage was rumbled by cops on April 7 this year when their car was stopped at a car wash in Epping while they and two other children were in it.
Detectives later searched their home and found a small room with a double bed the paedo and his “wife” shared.
Miss Kenyon, speaking on behalf of the defendant, told the court that this was an “exceptional” case, with very “unusual circumstances”.
She said: “There is no grooming, exploitation, force or coercion in this case. This was consent within a marriage, albeit an unlawful marriage.
“This is a widespread practice, an ancient custom that is still used today. The marriage of a young girl and older man is not an extraordinary event in their culture.
“He is following that tradition and is caught up in it.”
Children need to be protected from others and from their selves (Judge Lynch)
The court was told Romany gypsies are “badly marginalised” in Romania and the defendant’s “upbringing” had landed him in court.
By the time the man was 24, all of his friends and family of similar age were already married.
Sentencing, Judge Lynch said: “The issue here is the age of consent and age of lawful marriage in Romania is the same as in this country – it is 16 years of age.
“Sexual activity with children is against the law and we are dealing with a 12-year-old child, no matter what the customs are in another land. She is a child expecting a child I am told in a few short weeks and I am told she will not have an education in Romania.
“This is not a case of informed consent. Children need to be protected from others and from their selves.”
The man was given full credit for admitting statutory rape and was jailed for six years.
He will also spend 10 years on the sex offenders register.