Paedophile blackmailed and raped girl at West Lothian hotel after posing as teen boy

A convicted sex offender who pretended to be a teenage boy before blackmailing and raping a young girl at a West Lothian hotel has been jailed for eight years.

Joshua Pemberton struck in January 2022 having earlier been freed from jail. The 26 year-old had initially contacted the victim on social media while claiming to be just 14.

Pemberton went on to rape the 13 year-old girl at a hotel in Livingston after threatening to expose intimate photos of the teenager that he had pestered her for. Three other young girls were victims - two he had underage sex with and another he also hounded.

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Pemberton had been monitored at the time by the Highland and Islands sex offender policing unit based in his hometown of Inverness. He had initially been classed as a "high risk" when he was freed from prison in June 2020. Pemberton was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow.

He had pleaded guilty last October to a total of 17 charges including the rape of one girl, underage sex with two more as well as voyeurism and threats made to the fourth. Lady Stacey said this case highlighted the dangers children face with online sex predators who “prey” on them.

She told Pemberton she had decided against making an Order for Lifelong Restriction on him. The judge instead imposed an extended sentence which will also see the sex attacker be monitored for five years on his release.

The young rape victim did not know Pemberton before he made contact online. Prosecutor Chris Jones told the court: "He used a false picture to misrepresent his appearance to her.

They messaged on Snapchat and Pemberton went on to pester for nude pictures. The girl was said to have "eventually relented".

Pemberton later suggested meeting in Livingston - he also booked a room at a Travelodge in the town. Mr Jones: "On seeing him, the girl did not recognise him.

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"When he made himself known to her, she realised that he had been using a fake picture on social media and that he was older than he claimed to be."

Pemberton almost immediately suggested going back to the hotel for sex. The girl insisted she did not want to - but the pervert warned her he had "saved" intimate photos of her and "would send them to people she knew" unless she agreed to his sick demands.

Pemberton used his strength to rape the crying girl in the hotel room. She eventually escaped his clutches and fled to the bathroom.

Mr Jones: "He told her he would not do anything to hurt her. She replied: 'You already have - you have just raped me'."

She managed to get out the hotel still in tears. Despite what he had done, Pemberton contacted the child again, once more trying to blackmail her. She pleaded: "Why are you trying to ruin my life. I am only 13."

The court heard Pemberton also had sex with two other underage girls - aged 14 and 15 - after he "deceived them into thinking he was far younger than he was". Mr Jones said they were "badgered" as well into sending intimate photos of themselves.

A fourth girl - aged 13 - was not physically attacked, but was also preyed upon for pictures. The crimes emerged after police learned Pemberton had been accessing indecent images of children in June 2022.

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Two phones were seized which also revealed contact with the girls. Mr Jones: "All of them reported that they would not have interacted with him had they been aware of his true age."

Pemberton committed the latest offences having received jail-terms in 2018 and 2019 for offences against five youngsters including trying to extort naked photos as well as threats to rape and drown one.

Shahid Latif, defending, said: “He is aware of the consequences of his behaviour. He has some insight and has displayed an expression to change.”

Lady Stacey told Pemberton the jail-term would have been 10 years, but for the guilty pleas. The judge: “These children were deceived by you and they will find it difficult to trust people in the future.

“You preyed on them. You knew that they were young – that is why you chose them. These young girls show how very vulnerable children can be to people on the internet who deceive them.”

Pemberton was further hit with 12-year non-harassment orders banning him from approaching or contacting all four victims.