May 2016

Teen flew 4,000 miles to confront blackmailer who turned her into virtual sex slave

Daniel Howarth

A schoolgirl who had been turned into a virtual sex slave by an Internet blackmailer flew 4,000 miles from America to the UK to confront her tormentor in court.

The victim – who cannot be named for legal reasons – told Daniel Howarth, ‘look at me when I’m talking to you’, as she described her horrific ordeal in the courtroom .

Incredibly, she then expressed her forgiveness of Howarth, despite having suffered a mental breakdown after months of domination and abuse at his hands.

The girl was 15, depressed and had just started a new school when the campaign of control began

Once Howarth, 18, had nude images of his victim, he was able to control her – even though she lived in Georgia, USA, and he lived in north Manchester .

He ordered her not to shower, to become ‘nocturnal’, to drink her own urine and to send him images of herself performing sex acts.

But the teenager found the courage to confront Howarth face-to-face in court as he was sent down for offences against her and a 15-year-old boy he also groomed online.

Both victims ended up performing extremely degrading and bizarre acts on camera, over the web, at Howarth’s instruction.

As he was sent down, the girl described her ordeal in a victim impact statement she read in court, telling him: “Look at me when I’m talking to you”, when he refused to meet her eye.

She concluded by telling him: “God forgives you – and I forgive you.”

Howarth, of Grange Park Road, Blackley , has been locked up for four years, and will remain on licence until 2024.

The sentencing judge said the female victim had been ‘utterly trapped’ by him and completely ‘overwhelmed’.

In a disturbing twist, police learnt Howarth had actually set up an online mental health and self-harm support forum, which would have given him access to a pool of vulnerable victims.

However it was on the popular social networking site Kik that Howarth found his two victims.

On November 1, 2014, the girl entered into a private chat with him on the app, which lasted all night and resulted in them swapping intimate photos.

He promised her support and friendship, but days later became angry when she hesitated to send him more indecent pictures, resulting in her giving in and sending more.

Once he had the images, Howarth threatened to send the pictures to her school if she did not obey him.

Over the next three months, he told her to stop showering and to eat coffee and her own hair, among other things.

He also made her send him images of herself writing abusive phrases across her body.

At one stage he even manipulated her into contacting other men online, and pretending she liked them, before ridiculing them.

He threatened to fly to the US and ‘beat and rape’ her in front of her family – and once made her take 100 pictures of herself in one night as a ‘punishment’.

Howarth was traced by police via his IP address after the girl finally broke down and confided in a friend and then a teacher.

When police went to Howarth’s home they found an iPhone containing child and extreme pornography, and an iPad which revealed his abuse of the 15-year-old boy over the web in March 2015.

The male victim had been made to perform a number of degrading sex acts, and had been coaxed by Howarth into drinking his own urine, filling his mouth with toilet paper, and eating his own faeces and smearing it over his face. He also injured himself with wire and knives at Howarth’s instruction.

The family of the male victim – described as ‘extremely disturbed’ even before he met Howarth – did not co-operate with the prosecution, so it is not known what effect the abuse had on him.

But the American girl has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and has been forced to drop out of school. Her ‘devastated’ mother has left her job as a high school principal, placing the family under considerable financial strain – not least because of their daughter’s medical bills.

Sentencing Howarth, who admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, inciting a child to engage in pornography, possessing indecent images of children and possessing extreme pornographic images, Judge Richard Mansell QC described Howarth as an ‘extremely troubled young man’.

A psychological report revealed that he has had a raft of mental health difficulties for some time, including a long-standing sleep disorder, depression and severe social anxiety.

Passing an extended sentence of the kind reserved for dangerous offenders, the judge told Howarth: “A number of factors are present in this case indicative of you presenting a serious risk of causing serious harm from further offences.

“The degree of planning, the manner in which you groomed each child with friendly behaviour which very soon turned to sexualised aggression, humiliation and victimisation.

“The fact there was more than one victim, the length of time over which the offences were committed, the sado-masochistic nature of some of your demands.

“A further factor relevant to the risk you pose is the complete lack of remorse expressed by you, as well as a lack of insight into what harm you may have caused. On the contrary, you have sought to justify a lot of what you have done.”