Britain's youngest named female paedophile jailed for more than seven years

Will Metcalfe

Britain’s youngest named female paedophile has been jailed for seven years after taking indecent images of children and sending them to a man she met online.

Sophie Elms, now 18, committed the “devastating” sexual offences against two young children aged just two and three years old, a court heard.

The list of 16 sexual offences she previously admitted included penetration, sexual assault, and taking and distributing indecent photographs of the children.

She carried out the attacks after sex offender David Gearing contacted the teen online and incited her to abuse them and send him lewd pictures, a court heard.

Sophie Elms, 18, right, pictured walking to a previous court appearance.Elms has been jailed for seven years and 10 months for 16 offences. (SWNS)

He has since been jailed for 15 years, Swindon Crown Court heard.

Elms, of Swindon, worked at a local nursery at the time of the offences – but police have said the offences did not take place at the childcare facility.

Elms pleaded guilty in October 2018 to the sixteen offences, said to have taken place between December 2016 and March 2018.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the father of the two young girls told how Elms has “completely destroyed our lives” and “damaged us beyond words”.

The court heard that, at the age of 16, Elms had just started attending Swindon College, and was undertaking a placement in childcare.

Prosecutor Hannah Squire said Elms was left in charge of the children in 2016 and 2017.

Shamed Elms sobbed in court her victims’ father read a victim impact statement. (SWNS)

But in early 2017, Elms began having online contact with sex offender Gearing.

Between December 2016 and March 2018, Elms went on to commit four counts of sexual assault against the youngsters – two against each child.

She also committed four counts of taking indecent photographs of children – two category A photos, four category B photos, and one Category C photo.

She also committed six counts of distributing indecent photographs of children – four category A, four category B, and four category C.

In a police interview in April 2018, following her arrest on March 10, Elms told police that Gearing must have obtained her details from somewhere online.

She said that she liked talking to him, as she had “low confidence” and he “made her feel good”.

Defending, Chris Smyth said his client had been groomed from the age of 13 by four separate males – at least two of whom have been prosecuted.

Elms sobbed in the dock as the father of the two young girls read out a victim impact statement.

He said: “Our two beautiful daughters looked up to you. We asked you if you wanted to care for them overnight, to help with your studies.

“Not for one moment would we have imaged that this decision would change our lives forever.

“We have such a complete lack of trust to anyone with our children now.

“Even leaving them at pre-school is a challenge to us, as this was the profession in which you were training.

“Our youngest daughter is so distraught at bedtime that we have to stay with her for several hours.

“We have made the decision that we cannot stay in Swindon for fear of bumping into you – and that it will be better for us to move [abroad].”

Mr Smyth, defending Elms, described her as “very young and very easily led”.

Detective Inspector Simon Childe, of Wiltshire Police, said: “Elms is just 18-years-old making her one of the youngest women in the country to be convicted of these types of offences, and at the time of committing these atrocious crimes, she was studying child care with a long term aim of working with very young children in the future.”