Childcare student, 18, jailed for sexually assaulting two young girls
A teenage paedophile has been detained for nearly eight years for sexually assaulting two young girls.
Sophie Elms, 18, filmed the abuse she committed on the pre-school aged children and sent it to another paedophile.
She also took indecent photographs of a third girl and downloaded other indecent images from the internet, Swindon Crown Court heard.
Elms (pictured), a childcare student at Swindon College, was arrested after police traced images discovered on a convicted sex offender’s mobile phone back to her.
Hannah Squire, prosecuting, said Elms committed most of the offences when she was 17, although the offending began when she was 16.
“It is not possible to be certain of the date Sophie Elms began contact with David Geering, a known child sex offender, who is now serving a sentence of 15 years which was imposed in November 2018,” she said.
“The conversation started off non-sexual, as they often do in these circumstances, and Sophie Elms was out there online and receptive, and one might say susceptible, to contact from men like Geering.
“The conversation moved quickly on to sexual conversations. She made it clear she had access to children.
“It started out as innocuous photos of the children and she began sending them to Geering.
“They moved on to pictures of children naked, which were requested by Geering, and then it moved on to requests of images of Elms touching the children.”
Elms also sent images to three other men.
Police inquiries revealed Geering had sent indecent images to another paedophile, Stephen Merrett, who was jailed in June last year in Bristol for more than 13 years for sexual offences.
“Once they are sent to one person, they are sent to another person and to use that dreadful phrase, they go viral,” Miss Squire said.
The court heard one of the families who had trusted Elms now planned to leave Wiltshire.
“In time we hope to be able to regain our trust in people but forever our fears will remain,” the father said.
“We feel like the ones trapped in our own home – as if we have been given a life sentence.”
At a previous hearing, Elms, of Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault by penetration, two charges of sexual assault by touching, four charges of taking indecent images, six charges of distributing incident images and two charges of possessing extreme pornography.
Chris Smyth, defending, said: “Even now at the age of 18 she comes across as naive, immature for her age and lacking in social skills that one might expect for an 18-year-old.
“She was and remains a vulnerable and immature girl, who for reasons that perhaps go to her own lack of social skills, was finding it difficult in making friends at school and difficulties in finding a boyfriend.
“Therefore, that is the worst possible grounding for that difficult stage as you move into early adulthood.”
Judge Jason Taylor QC sentenced Elms to seven years and 10 months’ detention, placed her on the sex offenders register indefinitely and made her subject of a sexual harm prevention order until further order.
He said: “The parents of these children were comforted by the fact that you were doing a childcare course.
“In my judgment this was a breach of trust. They never suspected you would breach the tremendous trust they placed in you but you did.
“In the digital world sharing images is akin to lighting the touch paper and walking away. There is nothing anybody can do about it.
“In my judgment you knew precisely what you were doing. Your behaviour had elements of planning, it was sustained and it was extensive.
“You knew it was wrong. You had done safeguarding training. You deceived the parents of these children.”
The judge added: “You were a victim but also a perpetrator. You are a good manipulator.
“You wanted to appease the man towards whom you felt affection, and you wanted his attention.
“You prioritised these things over the welfare of young, vulnerable children.
“Their families are broken people and you’re the one that broke them. They will never recover.”
Following the sentencing, Detective Inspector Simon Childe said: “Elms is just 18 years old, making her one of the youngest women in the country to be convicted of these types of offences.
“At the time of committing these atrocious crimes she was studying childcare with a long-term aim of working with very young children in the future.”
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Wiltshire Police / PA Wire.