A 20-year-old man who groomed tragic schoolgirl Kayleigh Haywood, a few days before she was raped and murdered by someone else, has been given a three year and seven month detention sentence.
Bruce Cordwell, 20, was aware Kayleigh was 15 years old when he sent her a series of sexual text messages, and two indecent pictures of himself, when trying to meet her via Facebook and WhatsApp.
Kayleigh’s mother, Stephanie Haywood, sat in the public gallery today at Leicester Crown Court to hear the facts of the case outlined by prosecutor, Lynsey Knott.
Cordwell, of no fixed address, admitted at an earlier hearing attempting to arrange a meeting with Kayleigh, with the intention of having sexual intercourse with her, not reasonably believing she was 16 or over, between November 10 and 13, 2015.
Kayleigh never actually met up with Cordwell and was murdered at the hands of another, Stephen Beadman, on November 15, 2015.
Cordwell, who has two bright red lipstick kisses tattooed on the right side of his neck, kept his head bowed low in the dock throughout the proceedings.
Before sentencing, Judge Robert Brown told Mrs Haywood: “I’m told this case is completely unrelated to the events concerning the murder of your daughter.
“The prosecution have pointed that out from the outset, because there’s no connection between this man and the events leading the death by murder of your daughter and I must deal with the case on that basis.”
The judge told the defendant: “You knew that your victim, Kayleigh, was under 16 because that fact was established in the texts that went between you.
“You groomed her.
“Your intention was to meet her and to have sexual intercourse with her.
“You never actually met her and you hadn’t even agreed a date time or place of rendezvous.
“But this offending is child abuse and it calls for a custodial sentence and it must receive one.”
The judge told Cordwell it was “sad” to see someone of his age with 17 offences recorded against him including for drugs, violence, assaulting a police officer and possessing an offensive weapon – but he had no previous convictions for sexual matters.
He added: “I still take the view it’s a very serious matter.
“When children are abused they suffer all kinds of harm as the mother of this young lady knows only too well.”
Cordwell was placed on an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and will have to enlist on a sex offender register for life.
Miss Knott said that Cordwell made several suggestions to meet, including asking to see Kayleigh, of Measham, “before school.”
The pair exchanged about 100 messages on November 10 with the defendant making repeated requests for Kayleigh to go on a webcam, which she refused, and claiming he was “fitter and better” than her boyfriend.
He also asked her if she had had sex before, which she denied.
The court heard that Cordwell, described as “a problematic young man” sent Kayleigh two indecent pictures of himself and a sexually explicit message which Miss Knott said left the court in “no doubt about what he intended.”
Eugine Hickey, mitigating, said: “One suspects this is the type of chat that is happening daily across the country between teenagers.
“In clear terms the back story is the murder of Kayleigh Haywood which has no part of this case.
“During the thorough investigation into her murder the police went through her social media records.
“He was 19 at the time and she was 15; of course there’s criminality and he’s pleaded guilty.
“It’s not the type of grooming that so often comes before the courts.”
He said the last message Cordwell sent was on November 16, when he realised she was missing, saying: “You need to get home now. Your parents are worried sick about you. You’re only 15.”
Mr Hickey said: “That message perhaps says something about his moral compass and that he was concerned about her.
“No time or date was set for their meeting and no actual rendezvous was agreed.”
Last July, Kayleigh’s killer, landscape gardener Stephen Beadman, who raped and murdered her after holding her prisoner, was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 35 years.
Kayleigh’s body was found by a lake near Sence Valley Forest Park, Ibstock, on November 18, five days after she went missing from her home in Measham, Leicestershire – after being dropped off outside Ibstock Community College.
Beadman, of George Avenue, Ibstock, admitted murdering Kayleigh.
She was groomed on Facebook by Beadman’s neighbour, Luke Harlow, who lured her to his home.
Beadman, aged 29, and Harlow, 28, were both convicted by a jury of falsely imprisoning Kayleigh in the hours before she was killed on farmland in the early hours of November 15.
Harlow, who was jailed for 12 years, pleaded guilty to grooming Kayleigh and engaging in sexual activity with her.
An NSPCC spokesman said afterwards: “Kayleigh was a vulnerable girl targeted by online predators searching for victims to abuse.
“Her tragic story shows the serious dangers that young people face every time they log on. It is vital that parents talk to their children about what they are doing online and are aware of the risks.
“And in 2015, the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law campaign prompted the Government to make it illegal for an adult to send a sexual communication to an under 16-year-old.
“But almost two years later, the Government has yet to trigger the law, already successfully used to catch abusers in Scotland. It is an unacceptable and baffling delay.”