December 2020

Twisted grandfather groomed girl over Twitter and WhatsApp

A grandfather clasped his hands to his mouth in shock after being told he would be jailed for 18 months for inciting a 15-old-girl to perform sexual acts by using a false online identity.

Stephen Shill, of Valley View Close in Compton had pleaded guilty at Plymouth Crown Court to two charges involving the same young girl, between October 28, 2018 and November 23, 2018.

The court heard from prosecutor Emily Pitts who said the offences came to light when the father of the girl – who cannot be named for legal reasons – asked to have her phone to check he SIM card.

He then spotted the first messages which were described in court as being of a “highly sexualised nature”.

Shill, aged 57, was later arrested and confirmed he had started communicating with the girl via Twitter before asking for her mobile phone number and using Whatsapp.

Ms Pitts said Shill – whose head remained bowed during much of the prosecution’s summary – had lied to the girl about his age and claimed he was a teacher in his early 20s.

The messages revealed that he had encouraged the girl to perform indecent acts upon herself and provide sexualised photos of herself. He also sent the girl indecent images of himself to her.

The court heard that Shill suggested they meet up on November 24, 2018 and wrote that he wanted to touch her body.

He also asked her if she could perform oral sex on him and if they could have sex. The court heard that she had replied that he would have to wait three years until she was 18 before they could.

The court was told that on November 22 Shill cancelled the meet, claiming that he had broken his ankle.

When arrested he claimed he recalled writing to a young woman, but insisted that as soon as he realised her age he ended the contact.

However, Ms Pitts pointed out that examination of the two phones revealed he had learned quite early on from her that she was under the age of consent and had continued to communicate with her.

She cited police documents which covered 32 pages of communication and that the girl had admitted she was 15 on the second page.

Shill claimed he had never made any real plans and had never intended to meet with her.

A victim impact statement by the girl was read out to the court which noted that she had been affected “quite a lot” by the incident and felt that she was “unable to talk to friends on group chat”.

She also felt that it was partially her fault and had found it hard to study for her exams, with every free moment being spent focusing on what happened.

The judge dismissed the option of a suspended sentence, before sentencing him to 18 months for incitement to engage in sexual activity, and six months for intentionally communicating with a girl aged under 18 for sexual gratification, to run concurrently.

At this news Shill, clearly shocked, reached up with both hands to cover his mouth. When his hands eventually fell away his mouth remained gaping open.

In addition Judge Mousely said Shill would be subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.