Creepy hotel boss had sex with underage girl on Devon beach

A creepy hotel supervisor has been jailed for having sex with an underage girl on a Devon beach after plying her with vodka and rum.

Merrick Rayner, aged 28, befriended and flirted with the 15-year-old before luring her to Fairy Cove in Paignton, a court heard.

He persuaded her to perform an indecent act upon himself and he also touched her sexually.

The girl was left with panic attacks and struggled with her anxiety in the aftermath of the incident, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

Jailing him for 16 months, Judge James Townsend told Rayner: “She was only 15 at the time and there was a significant disparity in age between the two of you and the matter is made worse by the fact that she was plied with drink before the sexual activity took place.

“It is plain that she has been badly affected by these events. Because of the gravity of these offences, punishment is only achievable by an immediate prison sentence.”

Rayner pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of incitement to sexual activity between July 31 and August 2 in 2018.

The defendant, now living in Higher Stert Terrace, Prince Rock in Plymouth, was at the time working as a supervisor at a Paignton hotel.

Fairy Cove Beach in Paignton (Image: TripAdvisor)

Nigel Wraith, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Rayner met the girl that summer and they became friends.

He added that in a sequence of Whatsapp messages he described himself as her “big brother”.

But the court heard that the messages became increasingly suggestive.

Mr Wraith said that he told her he was out drinking in town and he invited her out.

The barrister added that she told him that she was not allowed out, but later she sneaked out of her home to meet him at Fairy Cove in the early hours of August 2.

Mr Wraith said that they drank shots of vodka and Malibu rum as they lay on the beach.

He added that they then performed the indecent acts before she went back to her house.

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Mr Wraith said that a couple of days later she told her mother what had happened.

Reading from a statement the girl later gave police, he said: “She was to say that she felt emotionally drained and that she suffers panic attacks and struggles with anxiety.

“She details the effect on her education and her exam results. It has affected her friendships, particularly at school, and the way she feels around men.

“She concludes that she wants Merrick Rayner to know of the damage it has caused to herself and her family.”

Will Willden, for Rayner, said that his client had made immediate admissions.

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He added: “He does not seek to deny his behaviour. He is appalled by it. This was a stand-alone incident in his life.”

Mr Willden said that Rayner had been categorised by a probation officer as a low-risk offender.

He added that the defendant had been forced to wait 18 months before the case reached court.

Judge Townsend imposed a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order to control Rayner’s actions around girls. He must also sign the Sex Offender Register for a decade.

Devon Live