Rotherham man who groomed teenage girl on internet is jailed

Lee Hatfield
Lee Hatfield

A MAN who sexually exploited a teenage girl from Rotherham after grooming her via social media has been jailed.

A Sheffield Crown Court judge sentenced 29-year-old Lee Hatfield to three-years-and-eight-months in prison after he admitted inciting sexual activity with a child aged 13 to 16 and possessing indecent images of children.

The court heard Hatfield, of Manor Close, Rawmarsh, groomed his victim, a teenage girl who cannot be identified for legal reasons, via social media in November 2015. Despite knowing her young age, he began sending sexually explicit messages and images.

The victim reported this to her school and police were notified. Hatfield was arrested and his electronic devices seized. They were examined and found to contain indecent images and videos of children.

Detective Inspector John Fitzgibbons of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Hatfield groomed a young teenage girl, sending her inappropriate and explicit messages of an increasingly sexual nature, despite him knowing her age.

“The images recovered from his devices demonstrate he is a risk to young people so I am pleased he accepted responsibility for his crimes and is now behind bars where he can pose no further harm.

“Pleading guilty also means his young victim will not have to face a distressing court process, though this is small consolation after her experience.

“I’d urge any young person out there who is being sexually abused or groomed online, or anyone with any concerns about a young person perhaps being exploited, to phone police so we can investigate and safeguard children from harm.”

Ian Thomas, Rotherham Council’s strategic director of children’s services, said: “We commend the bravery of any young person who is a victim of abuse and is able to come forward and make sure the perpetrators face justice for their crimes.

“This outcome is testimony to the way in which the council and the police are coming together to work more closely and effectively, with a shared commitment to victims of these type of crimes. We hope this gives greater confidence to victims and survivors of abuse to come forward.”

Hatfield’s name has also been placed on the sex offenders register for life.

You can report concerns for a child by calling police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can also call or text the national child sexual exploitation helpline Say Something on 116 000.