A 'predatory' Sheffield ice hockey player, who used his so-called 'fame' and position to commit sex offences against female fans as young as 13, has been put behind bars.
Thomas Squires, of Chapeltown, was jailed for 5 years and four months at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon after he admitted to four counts of inciting sexual activity with a child and one count of sexual activity with a child at an earlier hearing.
Squires' offending relates to five young girls aged between 13 and 15, none of whom can be named for legal reasons, and took place over a five year period between 2010 and 2015.
The court was told how Squires, aged 26, initiated contact with the girls through his position as an ice hockey player for Sheffield Steelers and then through ice hockey coaching positions he held for most of the duration of his offending.
Prosecutor Megan Rhys told the court how Squires approached his victims via social media and requested sexual images from them, and sent them unwanted sexual pictures of himself.
One of the Squires' victims was a 13-year-old girl he coached, and the court heard how he started sending the girl what Judge Dixon described as a 'barrage' of messages asking for sexual images after he obtained her number from elsewhere, most likely the records filled out by her parents when she started training.
Another of Squires' victims, a 14-year-old girl, sent him around 30-35 sexual images of herself that he had requested over a six month period - including one where she was performing a sex act on herself.
Ms Rhys told the court that the girl felt like she had to send him the pictures, and that she had initially trusted him and believed he was a friend to her.
Squires sexually assaulted another of his victims during a meal with a large group of people present.
In statements read to the court, one of his victims described Squires as a 'vile predator,' while another said he had 'ruined' her teenage years.
One victim said the effects of his offending had caused her to self-harm.
Squires played junior hockey for Sheffield clubs Scorpions, Spartans, Steelhawks and Scimitars. He attracted interest while playing for Sheffield Steeldogs and went on to play 98 times for the Steelers in the Elite League between 2010 and 2012. He also represented England and Great Britain under-20s.
Defending Squires, Jon Gregg said the 26-year-old had been unable to cope with the 'fame' that becoming a professional ice hockey player as a teenager had led to; and that it had caused him to go from someone who was unable to attract the attention of the opposite sex, to someone who was inundated with attention and friend requests on Facebook.
He said: "He turned professional at 18 and found himself in a situation he was not emotionally able to deal with.
"There after his approach became almost indiscriminate in forming relationships with women. There has been as many adults he has sent messages and pictures to as there were children."
Judge Dixon also sentenced Squires to an extended license period of three years and placed him on the Sex Offenders Register and handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
He said: “This was no lapse of judgement, this was despicable behaviour.
"You, as a grown man, sent pictures of your penis to a 13-year-old girl. A 13-year-old girl."
"The grooming was dangerous and continuing. You are a danger to others.”