A 20-year-old man convicted of systematically sexually exploiting and assaulting teenage girls in Lancing, Brighton, and Newhaven, has been given an 18-year sentence.
Lewes Harby, unemployed, 20, of Railway Road, Newhaven, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Thursday (October 12) having previously admitted nine counts of sexual offences against six teenage girls from Brighton, Lancing and Newhaven, police said.
Harby admitted sexually assaulting three girls, raping two – one of them on four occasions – and meeting one girl for sex after grooming, according to police.
He will serve an initial 12 years in prison and will also serve a further six-year period on extended prison release licence supervision, police said.
Harby will be a registered sex offender for life, was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court order, severely restricting his contact with young girls, confirmed police.
In sentencing Harby, Judge Janet Waddicor said that he had exploited his friendship with the victims, targeting them in an manipulative, cold and predatory manner.
Detective Constable Rich Valder-Davis, of the Brighton Safeguarding Investigations Unit, said; “Harby got to know his victims all of whom were younger than him, supplying them with mobile phones and giving them alcohol.
“As well as assaulting them, he sent some of them indecent photos of himself via the social media app Snapchat.
“Working closely with Brighton & Hove Council children’s services, we were gradually able to gain the confidence of the victims and put a case together with the invaluable assistance of the CPS and prosecutor James Dawes.
“A dangerous sexual predator who targeted young girls has now been safely removed from the streets and we hope this will act as a re-assurance for any other young girls who have found themselves in the same distressing situations, and their families, that they can contact us in confidence at any time and arrange to talk in confidence to experienced investigators.
“All information will be taken seriously and we can also arrange access to sources for further advice, support and counselling where necessary.
“Call us on 101 or contact us online quoting Operation Meridian.”
Lorna Lee, a CPS rape specialist prosecutor, said: “Harby targeted vulnerable young girls, gaining their trust and becoming someone they felt understood them and that they could confide in.
“He abused that trust, fostering relationships with the girls to a point where he could then abuse or rape them.
“Rather than the trustworthy friend they had been led to believe him to be, Harby was a sexual predator who used these young girls for his own sexual gratification.
“Due to the overwhelming evidence in this case, which included accounts from each of his victims, Harby entered guilty pleas to these offences.”
Lorna is a lawyer in the CPS South East’s dedicated Rape and Serious Sexual Offences team.
You can read more about their work on the CPS South East website.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Harby’s young victims have shown tremendous courage in coming forward and speaking out about their horrific ordeals.
“He purposefully used the anonymity of an online platform to carry out this abuse and we hope his victims are receiving all necessary support to overcome what happened to them.
“This case shows just how vital it is for parents and others talk to children about how to stay safe online.”