Man who groomed vulnerable Northamptonshire teenage girl on social media given four-year custodial sentence

Connor Hibberd
Connor Hibberd

A 19-year-old man who preyed on a grieving teenage girl using social media and encouraged her to self-harm and send indecent photographs of herself has been sentenced to four years in custody.

Connor Hibberd, used Instagram and WhatsApp to target his young victim at a difficult time in her life when she was grieving for a close family member.

Northampton Crown Court heard Hibberd’s old over his victim was so strong she felt she had no choice but to do as he said.

Hibberd caused the young girl to believe he would harm her if she did not comply by sending photographs of herself committing sexual acts and harming herself.

Lawrence English, head of Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit for the CPS East Midlands, said: “The young victim in this case was preyed upon at a difficult time in her life when she was grieving and suffering from the loss of a close family member. The defendant exploited this in the worst way possible.

“The defendant’s hold over his victim was so strong she felt she had no choice but to do as he said, although they had never met in person. Even when they were in different countries the power Hibberd held over his victim led to her acting against her wishes, under his instruction.”

Detective Constable Louisa Dyer, from the Force’s RISE (reducing incidents of sexual exploitation) team which led the investigation, has paid tribute to the bravery of the victim, who courageously gave evidence to the court about the protracted abuse and control she was subjected to over a two-year period.

She said: “I hope yesterday’s sentence enables her to achieve some closure. She will continue to be supported by specialist officers from the RISE team to enable her to recover from this terrible ordeal.

“The judge described Hibberd as a manipulative young man and imposed the extended licence conditions in order to protect the public from harm having deemed him to be a dangerous individual.”

Hibberd, now of Hillington in Norfolk, was sentenced to four years in a young offender institution and an eight-year extended licence period. He was placed on the sex offender register for life and is now the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Hibberd pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court on August 19 to four counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity between August 2014 and February 2016.