Police are urging parents and teenagers to know the signs of grooming after a man was jailed for targeting girls as young as 13.
Jamie Gillett started relationships with underage teenagers and became “threatening, controlling and obsessive” when they tried to leave him.
The 21-year-old from Reigate in Surrey was a teenager himself when the offences were committed between 2012 and 2016. His victims were 13 and 14.
Gillet pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual activity with a child, sexual assault of a child under 13 and a breach of a sexual risk order.
He was jailed for four and a half years at Guildford Crown Court and given an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order and an indefinite restraining order against one victim.
He will be listed on the sex offenders register for life.
Detective Constable Gemma Cherrington said: “Gillett started relationships with young girls, engaging in non-consensual sexual activities and showed threatening, controlling and obsessive behaviour towards them when they tried to end the relationships.
“I commend the bravery of the teenage girls for coming forward and reporting Gillett’s behaviour and for supporting a lengthy police investigation.”
Surrey Police pledged to take all reports of sexual abuse seriously and called for all parents and teenagers to be aware of the signs of sexual exploitation.
There are several methods of grooming, with the “boyfriend” model seeing an abusive relationship used to force victims into sex.
Children can also be trafficked, befriended online or – in the so-called “party model” – targeted by groups of men who lure them to gatherings with offers of drinks, drugs, money and car rides.
In high-profile cases such as Rotherham and Rochdale, gang leaders have been much older than their victims, but police say peer-on-peer abuse by teenagers from the same school or area is far more prolific.
The latest case came after members of a grooming gang that targeted vulnerable girls in Huddersfield were jailed for a total of 220 years for offences including child rape and trafficking.
Signs of grooming and exploitation can include:
Association with older people, anti-social groups and other vulnerable peers
Being involved in abusive relationships, feeling intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
Going missing, running away or homelessness
Being absent and truanting from school or showing signs of disengagement or considerable change in performance
Unexplained changes in behaviour, temperament or personality (e.g. chaotic, aggressive, sexual, mood swings)
These are just some of the signs and many victims will not see them as indicators of sexual exploitation or grooming. Young people often trust their abuser and don’t understand that they’re being abused, or they may depend on their abuser or be too scared to tell anyone what’s happening.
Source: Surrey Police