A Northampton teenager who groomed a grieving 14-year-old girl using social media and caused her to self-harm has today been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Connor Hibberd, 19, used Instagram and WhatsApp social media channels to target his victim, causing her to believe he would harm her if she did not comply by sending photographs of herself committing sexual acts and harming herself.
Lawrence English, Head of Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit for the CPS East Midlands said:
“The young victim in this case was preyed upon at a difficult time in her life when she was grieving and suffering from the loss of a close family member. The defendant exploited this in the worst way possible.
“The defendant’s hold over his victim was so strong she felt she had no choice but to do as he said, although they had never met in person. Even when they were in different countries the power Hibberd held over his victim led to her acting against her wishes, under his instruction.
“The prosecution case was highly complex, with several international legal issues to navigate. For example, it was necessary for the offence to exist in the country where it happened in order to prosecute, even if the defendant later returned to the UK.
“The CPS prosecutes criminal offences that take place both on- and offline. Hibberd used social media to facilitate his crimes and has now been brought to justice.”
Hibberd pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court on 19 August to four counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity between August 2014 and February 2016.
Hibberg was sentenced to a total of 4 years’ imprisonment. The judge found him to be dangerous and imposed an extended licence of 8 years. Hibberd is also now the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.