A man who groomed a Brighton girl on Facebook and then stalked and raped her has been jailed for 15 years
Shaun Harrad, from Laindon, met the girl on Facebook when he posed as a 21-year-old called Paul. At the time she was 13, and he was actually aged 47.
After gaining her confidence, Harrad asked the girl to send him photos, which gradually became more explicit.
He also pretended to be a young girl on Facebook and got the victim’s young teenage brother to send indecent images of himself, which he then passed on to the victim and threatened to distribute the images to their friends and family unless she kept contact with him.
Eventually, Harrad contacted the victim, admitting who he was and sending her a picture of himself. He told her he had enough compromising photos of the victim to destroy her life and went on to make threats against her family and friends.
When she was 18, Harrad showed his true identity and arranged to meet the victim which involved sexual activity including rapes, in various hotels in Sussex. The victim was coerced and frightened, being issued with conditions by Harrad that she had to abide by. If Harrad was displeased he would then threaten her and also said that he would destroy her family.
Even once the victim broke off all contact, Harrad bombarded her with threatening emails, phoned her parents and took photos of the victim’s house and garden. He told her he was watching her and warned her to be careful in the dark, suggesting he might be behind her at any time. He continued to threaten her parents over a period of years.
It was after an incident in June 2016, when the victim was raped and physically assaulted, causing actual bodily harm, at the address where she was living in Brighton, that she finally came to the police in Brighton and reported all the incidents.
Harrad was arrested in Essex on the same day that the victim, now aged 20, had felt able to report the offences, and he was charged and remanded in custody that day.
On Friday, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail at Lewes Crown Court, having been found guilty after a two-week trial of multiple offences of rape, of causing actual bodily harm, of distributing indecent images, and of stalking.
Harrad was convicted of two counts of rape and one charge each of ABH, distributing indecent photos of a child and putting a person in fear of violence by stalking.
In sentencing Harrad, Judge David Rennie said; “You represent every such child or young person’s nightmare. You know how easy it is to set up a fake online identity, confident in the knowledge that you are likely to be able to hook the interest of young gullible people. You frightened and intimidated her into silence. You made threats that you intended her to believe such as throwing acid into her face”
Detective Constable Tracey Dixon of the Brighton Safeguarding Investigation Unit said; “This young woman was deceived by this man in believing she had met a young handsome man online. A man, who she thought was her friend and boyfriend, Harrad, took advantage of her by getting her to send him indecent images. Over time, he terrified her and her family by stalking them, sending images and making threats when she did not comply with Harrad’s demands. She did not known where to turn.
“Thankfully she summoned up the courage after all the stalking, the threats and the rapes, to come to us in June this year and explain what had happened over the past seven years both in Berkshire, where her family lived, and Sussex. We took swift action and within 24 hours Harrad was arrested, charged and before a court.
“Young people need to take care when meeting people online and they should never feel they have nowhere to turn in times of need. They must discuss any concerns with parents, teachers, friends, or the police.”
Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East Jaswant Narwal said: “This is an extremely disturbing case and shows how sexual predators like Harrad can easily gain the confidence of their victims. He put this girl in a position where she became too scared to refuse any of his requests because of the threats he made.
“She felt forced into pretending she was in a relationship with Harrad and only had sex with him because, in her words, she was too afraid of what he would do to her otherwise. This is not consent. She was simply too frightened of what Harrad would do if she refused. However, the victim took the bold and brave step of reporting what had happened to her and now her tormentor has been brought to justice.”
The CPS launched its #ConsentIs campaign social media campaign in September 2015 to highlight what consent is in relation to sexual assault and rape. More information about the #ConsentIs campaign is available on the CPS website.