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Boy, 15, set up fake profile to threaten schoolgirls over indecent images

PUBLISHED: 15:24 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:24 25 October 2019

Chelmsford Magistrates Court. Photo: Reece Hanson

Chelmsford Magistrates Court. Photo: Reece Hanson

Archant

A "devious liar" subjected two schoolgirls to months of fear, distress and harassment after inciting them to send indecent images of themselves.

The Lowestoft boy, who was 15 when the offences began, was spared jail at a hearing at Chelmsford Youth Court on Friday, October 25.

Posing as a "family friend" on Snapchat, he sent the teenage girls indecent images of himself and threatened to post them to Facebook if they did not send him photos in return.

In an effort to protect someone they described as a friend, the girls complied.

After the girls told their parents and the police, the girls continued to be subjected to harassment from the boy, his friends and his family.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, one of the girls said: "He has made my life a misery. I feel I have changed as a person. I don't go out much because I am scared and anxious in case I see him or his family."

In her own victim impact statement, the mother of one of the girls said: "She has never caused any problems and used to be very sociable, but we noticed she was becoming withdrawn.

"We had a bombshell that night when she came running in hysterical and unable to speak. She gave me her phone and explained what happened.

"We believe he preyed on her kind and caring nature.

"We have all been subjected to psychological harassment and have had to take extra security measures to stop petty acts of vandalism by his family. We are forever looking over our shoulders. We are saddened she won't remember these years as fondly as she should."

The second girl said: "Wherever I am it is on my mind and I struggle to sleep or focus at school. I have had months of harassment from his family because he has told them his version of events.

"He was seen sitting on a wall near my home and I am scared about going out my front door. I want to feel safe again."

Her mother said: "My daughter used to be bubbly, outgoing and confident.

"She thought he would leave her along if she sent the pictures, and after she told me, but she has been subjected to physical and psychological bullying by his family. Whatever we do, we cannot make her feel safe."

The boy admitted two counts of inciting girls aged 14 to send indecent images between March 31 and June 27 2018.

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When interviewed by police, he denied creating the fake account and claimed he was a friend from an online video game.

Claire Mawer, mitigating, said: "His early teens were affected by an abusive relationship his mother had been in and it had a profound impact on him.

"He has moved towards a point where he is able to accept full responsibility for these very serious course of offending."

District Judge John Woollard said: "I take a very serious view of the way you have behaved. You are a devious liar to the extent that you conned those girls into believing the existence of this other boy and that he was threatening you, all to make sure they disclosed material which they had a right to keep private.

"You went to great lengths to manufacture this boy and it must have been humiliating and distressing for them, and I have heard it has not stopped.

"In the long run, I am not imposing a custodial sentence because I need to protect the community and you will not rehabilitate in the failing detention facilities which are not providing the work you can get outside."

A 12-month youth referral order was made, as well as a three-year restraining order. The boy was also ordered to pay court costs of £150 and a victim surcharge of £15.

He was also banned from accessing the internet on a device which does not store its history, or from deleting his internet history.

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