Two men have been convicted of a range of offences that culminated in the rape and murder of Leicestershire teenager Kayleigh Haywood.
Janine Smith, Chief Crown Prosecutor at CPS East Midlands said: “The death of Kayleigh Haywood was devastating. She suffered a terrifying ordeal at the hands of Stephen Beadman. She was only in that position because she had been groomed by Luke Harlow before being kept against her will.
“Beadman callously raped and took the life of an innocent teenage girl. Harlow pursued a succession of under-age girls in a sinister manner, talking about ‘kidnapping’ them and making them ‘slaves’.
“I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy to Kayleigh’s family and I hope the conviction of these highly dangerous men will in some way help them start to cope with their loss.”
Kayleigh’s body was found in a field just outside Ibstock in Leicestershire on 18 November 2015. She had been reported missing the previous weekend. Stephen Beadman, a landscape gardener from Ibstock, pleaded guilty to raping and murdering her. His neighbour, Luke Harlow pleaded guilty to grooming Kayleigh and sexual activity with a child. Both were found guilty by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court of false imprisonment, for detaining Kayleigh against her will in Harlow’s flat.
In the days leading up to the tragic events of that weekend, Harlow had made contact with Kayleigh over social media. He had flattered her, befriended her and enticed her to meet him. The Friday before she died, Kayleigh told her family that she was staying with a friend but was in fact meeting with Harlow.
Although Kayleigh went to visit Harlow of her own accord, at some point during the weekend, circumstances changed and she tried to escape. She was followed by Beadman, who raped her and killed her. He abandoned her body in nearby undergrowth, before returning to Harlow’s flat to collect his keys and Kayleigh’s belongings, which he abandoned in a skip along with his own bloodstained clothing.
Neither came forward when the police were searching for Kayleigh, but were traced through Kayleigh’s social media activity. Both admitted what they had done, but denied holding Kayleigh against her will.
Further investigations into Harlow’s online activity revealed attempts to groom other teenage girls before Kayleigh and he pleaded guilty to attempted grooming offences for two other girls.
Although Stephen Beadman pleaded guilty to raping and murdering Kayleigh and Luke Harlow pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a child, their pleas did not cover the full extent of their criminal actions, so both were tried for false imprisonment.