Woman, 21, sentenced for grooming girl of 13 at East End youth club

Snaresbrook Crown Court

Snaresbrook Crown Court - Credit: Snaresbrook crown court

A woman who began an intimate relationship with a 13-year-old girl at a youth club and tried taking it further has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Leah Roberts, a 21-year-old from east London, was sentenced yesterday at Snaresbrook Crown Court after pleading guilty on September 30 to grooming a girl under the age of 16.

She met the teenager at a Tower Hamlets youth club that they both attended last year.

Roberts began sending messages to the girl over several weeks that summer, eventually venturing to ask her if she was in a relationship.

The girl replied that she wasn’t and Roberts asked her how old she was—then told her that “age is only a number” and continued to pursue the youngster.

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The two began a relationship in September, 2015, when they kissed and Roberts sent the girl messages of a sexual nature—although there was no other sexual contact, the court heard.

The girl then decided to end the relationship with Roberts after three weeks, feeling that it was wrong. She confided in one of the workers at the youth club and police were informed.

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Roberts was arrested and subsequently charged with grooming.

“Leah Roberts took advantage of a young girl, pursuing her with intention of engaging in a sexual relationship,” Det Con Phillipa Kenwright said. “She knew full well that the girl was only 13—but this made no difference to her.”

Roberts, from Bromley High Street in Bromley-by-Bow, was given nine months, suspended for two years, and a five-year restraining order, a 60-day rehabilitation requirement and a two-year mental health order.

Police are now urging any young girls who think they are being led or pressured into a sexual relationship to contact them.

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