A paedophile who admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl has been spared jail after backlogs meant his case took over two years to come before the courts.
Martin McNair-Templeton, 23, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court to having sexual activity with a child under 13 following an encounter in March 2017 when he was 21.
But while judge Ian Lawrie QC told McNair-Templeton he should be starting a prison term, the 23-year-old was instead handed a suspended sentence following a series of legal and administrative delays.
Judge Lawrie said the backlogs, which resulted in the case not being heard in court for more than two years, had "somewhat undermined" his sentencing powers.
He said: "McNair-Templeton should be given a custodial sentence for these offences. If you (McNair-Templeton) had been dealt with speedily two years ago I would have no hesitation in sending you to prison.
"However, sentencing is somewhat undermined when it takes this long to get to court.
"You took advantage of a young girl. You were oblivious to the emotional damage you have caused the girl who is now aged 16.
"It's not your fault this case has taken two years to get to court and I appreciate that you need help with your problems. I also believe that you would be vulnerable in prison."
Clive Myrie, defending, had earlier told the judge: "The delay was very significant. The offence was committed when the defendant was 21. He has issues with maturity and it impacts on him as part of his daily life."
Prosecutor Christopher Smyth told the court at the start of the case that McNair-Templeton had originally denied the offence and a jury trial was under way in October when he changed his plea to guilty.
"The girl was 13 and he was an immature 21-year-old when the offence was committed," said the prosecutor.
He told the court that the girl had been out with a group of friends and they were outside McNair-Templeton's flat when she "felt funny" after smoking weed.
She met McNair-Templeton for the first time and he began to say he loved her and took her back to his room when she said she wanted to sleep, the prosecutor said.
In a statement, the victim said she repeatedly refused McNair-Templeton's sexual advances before he had sex with her.
The teenager informed her support worker the following day who then contacted police.
The judge sentenced McNair-Templeton to two years jail suspended it for two years.
He also ordered him to undertake 60 rehabilitation activity requirement days and attend monthly judicial reviews.
The judge also imposed a ten-year sexual harm prevention order on McNair-Templeton and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £140.