A martial arts instructor who ‘brainwashed’ a 15-year-old girl into having an illicit affair with him has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Martin Yankey, 37, seduced the youngster after dousing her with vodka and cocaine as she ran away from a children’s home.
During their relationship, the girl in love, who was repeatedly reported missing by the nursing home, continued to meet Yankey.
She was even picked up by him in a friend’s Range Rover when she was transferred to foster parents’ home 200 miles away.
Police, who had been alerted to the couple by social workers, repeatedly visited Yankey’s home in Atherton near Bolton, Greater Manchester, but he falsely claimed he knew nothing about her – as she hid in his attic.
He was eventually arrested after officers received a search warrant and found her crouched in a kitchen cupboard.
In a statement, the teen said she didn’t think the relationship was wrong until she saw a TV show about grooming.
She told Manchester Crown Court: ‘At the time I kept spinning and getting off my head, which I thought was normal. Now I don’t think I will ever heal from the trauma.
“He made me believe we were in a relationship and he made me feel like I had a purpose in life, but I didn’t know it was all lies.
“When I started to accept it, I realized that I had been cared for and had been the victim of extreme sexual abuse.
Martin Yankey, 37, seduced the 15-year-old girl after dousing her with vodka and cocaine when she ran away from a children’s home in Wigan in 2018. Police, who had been alerted to the couple by social workers, repeatedly visited Yankey’s home in Atherton near Bolton, Greater Manchester, but he would falsely claim to know nothing about her – as she hid in his attic
“I made myself sick and started hurting myself. I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety and on one occasion I tried to take my own life.
‘I suffer from a hot sweat and am afraid to leave my own house. I have been called a liar and have been verbally abused in the street.
“I don’t think I’ll ever have a normal relationship, but I remain hopeful. My ability to love, trust, and be happy has been taken from me. He used and abused my trust in him.’
Now 19 years old, she told Yankey, ‘I was 15 and under the care of the local government. You used that to your own advantage and you used me for your own sexual gratification for your own power and domination.
“I have a feeling you won. You took my childhood memories away from me. I wondered why me, I screamed for help and you abused that. I have little or no faith in society.’
The girl’s mother said, “My 15-year-old was taken from me and you hunted her vulnerabilities. She was a child and you manipulated her. Your brainwashing has taken her freedom away.’
The court heard that the affair took place in early 2018 while the girl was living in a care home in Wigan. She was said to be regularly missing and the house staff would contact her via her cell phone to persuade her to return.
She met Yankey through a mutual friend and he would pay for taxis to and from his house.
Police, alerted by nursing home staff about the girl repeatedly missing, went to Yankey’s property four times after being tipped off by a suspicious taxi driver. Officers told Yankey that the girl was 15 and even showed him pictures of her and asked her where they were, but he claimed not to know her.
The girl was eventually moved out of the area to live with foster carers in southern England, but shortly after her arrival she walked out and jumped into a waiting Range Rover in which Yankey was a passenger.
Officers later returned to his home and found the girl while Yankey accused them of police harassment.
Rachel Shenton, prosecutor, said: “The girl later said she met the defendant and another man through her boyfriend. 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 the first time and she believed they were in a relationship. She began to visit him regularly while she was missing from home.
“She described it as fun and thought he loved her. In fact, the defendant nursed her as a grown man by saying that he loved her and provided her with drink and drugs.
She remembers one time she lost a day to her drunkenness and only realized it when she saw a Snapchat message sent the day before.
The teen told Manchester Crown Court (pictured) she doesn’t think she will be able to have a normal relationship because her ‘ability to love, trust and be happy has been taken away’
“He encouraged her to take drugs and drink alcohol and told her to tell his friends that she was 17 years old, and if anyone found out he was going to be in serious trouble. She also describes the defendant becoming increasingly obsessive and paranoid.
She admits she continued to see him, despite feeling intimidated by him and often hiding in the attic or closet when the police came looking for her. This was the manipulation, care and abuse of a vulnerable child.’
In an interview, Yankey initially denied that their relationship was sexual, saying he was “old enough to be her father.” He added: “I thought she was 17 or older because that’s what’s on her Facebook account and I believe it’s still on Facebook.”
Yankey confessed to rape, sexual activity with a child and supplying drugs. His attorney Joe Cooper said his client was now in a “committed” relationship with another 20-year-old woman.
Mr Cooper added: ‘The complainant chose to go to his address and go missing from her care home and to other addresses unrelated to Mr Yankey.
‘She’s a young woman of 15 who told everyone she was 17. He doesn’t accept that he knew she was 15. There was no care. This was a relationship and she made conscious choices.
But sentencing judge Hilary Manley told Yankey, “You exploited and exploited a 15-year-old girl at a particularly vulnerable point in her young life. She was a child living in a care home and you were twice her age.
“You’ve been sprinkling her with cocaine all the time and showing the classic methods of grooming that made her feel like an adult while you manipulated her with your unpredictable behavior.
“You were cunning and selfish. Although this was a young girl who consented to sex, it was a totally unequal relationship. Since being removed from your poisonous influence, she has described the damage done by your actions.
“Your attitude indicates that you show no remorse at all. You have no idea of the damage you’ve done. It is because you are a manipulative and selfish man who sees yourself as the victim.
‘I am convinced that you are demonstrating a risk of danger. You think wrong and it’s disturbing that your last partner is 20, which shows that you have an abiding interest in relationships when there is a significant age difference.”
Yankey will serve an additional two years after his release and will be on the sex offender registry for life.