A martial arts instructor who ‘brainwashed’ a 15-year-old girl into having an illicit affair with him has been jailed for 13 years.
Martin Yankey, 37, seduced the youngster after plying her with vodka and cocaine when she ran away from a children’s home.
During their relationship the besotted girl who was repeatedly reported missing by the care home, continued to meet up with Yankey.
She was even picked up by him in a friend’s Range Rover when she was transferred to the home of foster parents 200 miles away.
Police alerted to the pair by social workers repeatedly visited Yankey’s home in Atherton near Bolton, Greater Manchester, but he would falsely claim to have no knowledge of her — while she hid in his loft.
He was eventually arrested after officers got a search warrant and found her cowering in a kitchen cupboard.
In a statement, the teenager said she did not feel the relationship was wrong until she saw a TV programme about grooming.
She told Manchester Crown Court: ‘At the time I carried on going round and getting off my head, which I thought was normal. Now I do not think I will ever heal from the trauma.
‘He made me believe we were in a relationship and he made me feel I had a purpose in life but little did I know, it was all lies.
‘When I did start to accept it, I realised I had been groomed and was a victim of extreme sexual abuse.
Martin Yankey, 37, seduced the 15-year-old girl after plying her with vodka and cocaine when she ran away from a children’s home in Wigan in 2018. Police alerted to the pair by social workers repeatedly visited Yankey’s home in Atherton near Bolton, Greater Manchester, but he would falsely claim to have no knowledge of her — while she hid in his loft
‘I was making myself sick and started self harming. I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety and on one occasion I tried to take my own life.
‘I suffer with hot sweats and I fear leaving my own house. I have been called a liar and suffered verbal abuse on the street.
‘I do not think I will ever have a normal relationship, but I remain hopeful. My ability to love, trust and be happy has been taken away. He used and abuse my trust in him.’
Now 19 years old, she told Yankey: ‘I was 15 and in the care of the local authority. You used that to your own advantage and you used me for your own sexual gratification for your own power and domination.
‘I feel you have won. You have taken my childhood memories away from me. I questioned why me, I was crying out for help and you abused that. I have little or no trust in society.’
The girl’s mother said: ‘My 15-year-old was taken away from me and you preyed upon her vulnerabilities. She was a child and you manipulated her. As a result of your brainwashing, she had her freedom taken away from her.’
The court heard the affair occurred in early 2018 while the girl was living at a care home in Wigan. It was said that she would regularly go missing and staff at the home would contact her on her mobile phone in a bid to persuade her to return.
She met Yankey through a mutual friend and he would pay for taxis to go to and from his home.
Police alerted by care home staff about the girl repeatedly going missing attended Yankey’s property four times after being tipped off by a suspicious cab driver. Officers told Yankey the girl was 15 and even showed him pictures of her and asked her whereabouts, but he claimed not to know her.
Eventually the girl was moved out of the area to live with foster carers in the South of England but shortly after her arrival she walked out and jumped into a waiting Range Rover in which Yankey was a passenger.
Officers later attended at his house again and found the girl while Yankey accused them of police harassment.
Rachel Shenton, prosecuting, said: ‘The girl later said she met the defendant and another male through her friend. They went to the defendant’s address, where they drank alcohol and he gave them cocaine.
‘She readily admits that they had consensual sexual intercourse on the first occasion and she believed they were in a relationship. She began visiting him regularly, while going missing from home.
‘She described it as fun and thought he loved her. In fact the defendant, as an adult man, was grooming her by saying he loved her and supplied her with drink and drugs.
‘She recalls one occasion when she lost a day due to her intoxication and only realised when she saw a Snapchat message sent the day before.
The teenager told Manchester Crown Court (pictured) that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to have a normal relationship because her ‘ability to love, trust and be happy has been taken away’
‘He would encourage her to take drugs and drink alcohol and told her to tell his friends that she was 17 years old, telling her if anyone found out he would be in serious trouble. She also describes the defendant becoming increasingly obsessive and paranoid.
‘She admits that she carried on seeing him, despite feeling intimidated by him and would regularly hide in the loft or a cupboard when the police came looking for her. This was the manipulation, grooming and abuse of a vulnerable child.’
In interview, Yankey initially denied their relationship was sexual saying he was ‘old enough to be her father’. He added: ‘I thought she was 17 or older, because that is what is posted on her Facebook account and I believe it is still on Facebook.’
Yankey admitted rape, sexual activity with a child and supplying drugs. His lawyer Joe Cooper said his client was now in a ‘committed’ relationship with another woman aged 20.
Mr Cooper added: ‘The complainant was choosing to attend his address and to going missing from her care home and to go to other addresses that have nothing to do with Mr Yankey.
‘She is a young woman who was 15, who told everyone she was 17. He does not accept he knew she was 15. There was no grooming. This was a relationship, and she was making conscious choices.
But sentencing Judge Hilary Manley told Yankey: ‘You exploited and debauched a 15-year-old girl at a particularly vulnerable time in her young life. She was a child living in a care home and you were over twice her age.
‘You plied her continuously with cocaine and you exhibited the classic methods of grooming, making her feel like an adult while manipulating her with your unpredictable behaviour.
‘You were devious and selfish. While this was a young girl consenting to sex, it was a wholly unequal relationship. Since removed from your poisonous influence, she has detailed the damage that has been done by your actions.
‘Your attitude indicates that you show no remorse at all. You have no idea of the damage you have done. It is because you are a manipulative and selfish man who sees yourself as the victim.
‘I am satisfied you demonstrate a risk of dangerousness. Your thinking is preverse and it is disturbing your latest partner is 20, showing you have a continued interest in relationships when there is a significant difference in age.’
Yankey will have to serve an extra two years on license after he is released and will be on the Sex Offender Register for life.