Rugby man who 'groomed' 14-y-o girls "doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong" - The Rugby Observer

Rugby man who 'groomed' 14-y-o girls "doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong"

Rugby Editorial 6th Oct, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

AN ‘UNHEALTHY interest in young girls’ led a young man to persuade a 14-year-old to send him naked pictures of herself – after he had been arrested over similar activity with another girl.

Joshua Ashby was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty at Coventry Crown Court to four charges of inciting girls to engage in sexual activity.

Ashby, 22, of Castle Coombe, Rugby, whose not guilty pleas to meeting or attempting to meet the girls following sexual grooming was accepted, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski told the court the offences arose from Ashby’s use of social media to contact girls he knew to be under the age of consent, to “groom them and incite them to perform sexual acts and take photos of themselves”.

The first girl had told Ashby she was 13 when they first met, and shortly after her 14th birthday Ashby contacted her via Facebook.

“The Facebook messages were analysed and demonstrated persistent and repeated requests of an explicit nature by this man, who was 19 at the time, and this girl of 14,” said Mr Kolodynski.

Ashby persuaded the girl to send him naked pictures of herself and ones of her performing sex acts on herself, and told her he wanted to perform oral sex on her.

When that came to light in July 2012 Ashby was arrested, and when he was interviewed he claimed he believed she was 16.

But that was a lie, because he had sent messages which made it clear he was aware of her age, pointed out Mr Kolodynski.

“So at that point he clearly knew what he was doing was totally wrong, and that arrest ought to have put a stop to that behaviour – but it didn’t.”

In March last year, Ashby began sending messages to another girl he knew was only 14 which quickly turned to requests of a sexual nature, inciting her to send him naked and sexy pictures of herself and encouraging her to take time off from school so they could meet up ‘and have fun.’

But when he was arrested again Ashby claimed he had lost his phone and blamed other people, including his own brother.

And when officers challenged him about the texts he became disruptive and abusive – and he had during his interview in relation to his first victim, the court heard.

Mr Kolodynski pointed out that Ashby told the probation officer who prepared the pre-sentence report on him that the girl was a liar, and threatened to take revenge on her.

Colin Charvill, defending, said: “The first three matters took place over a two-month period in 2012 when Mr Ashby was 18 and the victim was 14; and in relation to the final count there was one allegation when he asked the second victim to send him some photos.

“He has not himself been involved in any penetrative activity with the girls. These offences took place at a distance.”

But Judge Philip Gregory commented: “They didn’t. He met up with the first girl. I’ve got evidence here that makes it plain they met up on a number of occasions.

“He asked if he could stay over at her home and whether they could ‘do some more dirty stuff.’”

Mr Charvill argued that those were ‘conversations’ and that Ashby does not accept those things actually happened.

Rejecting the suggestion of a community order, Judge Gregory said: “He doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong. It seems to me that only by going to custody will he appreciate that he has.”

And he told Ashby: “In 2012 you engaged in a campaign to secure contact with a young girl for the purpose of engaging in various sexual acts. You sought to persuade her to behave in a deeply inappropriate way for a girl of that age.

“You were arrested and interviewed about that matter, but nevertheless 18 months later you again engaged in a campaign to persuade a different girl to engage in sexual activities.”

Agitated throughout the hearing and cutting his hand with his nails, Ashby began swearing as he was being sentenced, and punched the wall as he was taken from the dock.

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