Man jailed for grooming ‘naive’ Sheffield schoolgirl online

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Courts: Reports, news and more.

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A SEXUAL predator who groomed a Sheffield schoolgirl online before passing her details on to an older man has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Lee Howells, aged 25, will be on the sexual offender register for life for grooming an underage teenager for sex via a chatroom.

The victim, who cannot be named, was just 14 when she began talking to Hollis, from Stoke, online. The pair exchanged messages for almost a year before agreeing to meet in the girl’s home city of Sheffield in May last year, where sexual touching took place.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Howells had also convinced her to meet with his ‘friend’ Jeremy, the day after.

Ms Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, said: “Jeremy met her in a car park near to her address after school. She was still wearing her uniform and told police he was a lot older than what she expected, he had told her he was 47.

“It was her belief she would get into the car and they would get to know each other better but he tried to touch her sexually and she had told him to stop.”

A fellow school pupil raised the alarm after the victim confided in her.

Police searched Howells’ home and found four DVDs containing indecent images of children.

Robert Smith, defending, said: “This offence has brought a great deal of shame on his family. He is a loving son and boyfriend capable of great acts of kindness and was well-respected until this matter.”

Howell, of Linburn Road, Stoke pleaded guilty to arranging or facilitating of a child sex offence, meeting a female child under 16 following sexual grooming and three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child.

Judge Roger Keen QC said: “It must have been perfectly obvious this girl was naive and vulnerable. You deliberately behaved in a predatory fashion.”

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