December 2017

Woman who sent intimate selfies to ’13 year old girls’ escapes jail

Sending intimate pictures of herself to ‘paedophile hunters’ posing as 13-year-old girls resulted in a six month jail term, suspended for a year, for a Newport woman.

Laura Harding, 31, of Hookes Way, admitted two charges of engaging in sexual communication with a child when she appeared before Island magistrates today (Friday).

The court heard how Harding had gone online believing she was in contact with two 13-year-old girls.

She sent intimate pictures of herself and invited the two ‘girls’ to reciprocate.

However, the messages from the girls were sent by a paedophile hunter group called ‘Guardians of the North’ who reported the offences to the police, said Vivian Ducie prosecuting.

For Harding, Barry Arnett said his client was supported by a number of people including her brother who had come to the hearing from Sweden and the pastor from her local church.

He said the case was ‘very unusual’.

He said: “They are improper offences. Although we have heard the people behind this were vigilante groups, it matters not. They are serious and of course children have to be protected.

“What you do have is a young lady who has never been in any form of trouble at all and clearly has acted impulsively and has learning difficulties and vulnerabilities.

“She did not stop and think about the consequences of her actions.”

He added that a pre-sentence report compiled by a highly experienced probation officer gave a very good insight into his client’s disabilities and vulnerabilities.

He said: “Despite her limitations, she realises what she did was inappropriate and wrong.”

As well as the suspended jail term, Harding was made subject of a sexual harm prevention order and told to sign the sex offenders’ register.