June 2016

Derbyshire internet star groomed young boys and girls then sexually abused them


A TEENAGE internet star from Derbyshire “used his growing online influence” to groom underage boys and girls to engage in sexual activity with him.

Tom Laywood, who once had more than 40,000 subscribers to his now deleted YouTube channel, enticed young boys and girls to his home where sexual touching took place.

Police said the 18-year-old, who still has a Twitter page called “Tom Laywood Fans” dedicated to him, would invite them to the house, in Oak Tree Close, Swanwick.

A spokesman for the force said if they rebuffed his advances “he would threaten the victims by saying he would use his online presence to embarrass them”.

He would make unwanted and uninvited sexual advances against boys and girls, and whenever those advances were rebuffed, he would threaten to use his growing online influence to embarrass the victims.

Derbyshire Police launched an investigation after victims came forward in early 2015.

Laywood was arrested, charged and has now pleaded guilty to three counts of inciting underage boys to engage in sexual activity, two similar counts involving underage girls and forcing a minor to watch a sex act.

The offences took place between August 2014 and April 2015.

According to one web page, Laywood became famous for his “Tomisnotawesome” YouTube channel, which accumulated almost 31,000 subscribers and almost 957,000 views by late 2014.

He uploaded popular videos include ones entitled “Cute and Attractive Things Girls Do” and “Things That Annoy and Frustrate Me About Girls.”

By the end of 2014, he had 15,000 Twitter followers and over 3,000 Instagram fans, and he had also launched a second YouTube Channel that had nearly 16,000 views.

His now shut down Twitter feed said: “I do things which I later regret, but who doesn’t?”

Two years ago, Laywood started his own online petition on the Change.org website called “Let Tom Laywood back in Swanwick Hall School Sixth Form”.

On it he wrote: “I was kicked out/let go/dismissed from school for no reason. I cannot go into detail about why this was but I do not give up on my dreams. I met my friends in that school and I am not prepared to start again, they will carry on without me and I refuse to give up having my education and my social life taken away. I hope you see that despite being treated like I was, I want to remain there for good reasons.”

It has since been closed down but, at the time, attracted 107 supporters.

The teenager was handed a two-year community order for each count on the indictment that he pleaded guilty to.

As part of that he must undergo a mental health treatment requirement.

He was also handed a five-year sexual harm prevention order at Nottingham Crown Court.

This means he is now banned form working with, or contacting online, anyone under the age of 16 for that period of time.

Judge Michael Stokes told him: “As I am sure you appreciate the offences to which you pleaded guilty to are very serious.

“It is quite clear that your problem is long standing and I cannot remember a case where the defendant has been the subject of so much analysis than you have been.

“It is perfectly clear from all of the reports that your behaviour is rooted in the conditions which you suffer and which have had a debilitating effect on your ability to judge situations.

“You are a very intelligent young man and you have huge ability, but without going into all of the details your ability to judge situations like other young men is affected by your conditions.

“I know you had a very nasty time when you were in Nottingham Prison and you do not want to go back there.

“Your parents have been very loyal and they remained loyal and supportive to you throughout this lengthy process.