June 2017

Pervert jailed for grooming Thanet schoolgirl

A former rally driver groomed a 14-year-old Thanet schoolgirl using a new Renault Megane.

Then speedster Matt Stephens took the young girl to a hotel where they had sex after he seduced her with Champagne and strawberries.

Predatory Stephens told her he was aged 29 when in fact he was 36, but used his “charm” to carry out his vile sex abuse, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

The schoolgirl was so traumatised by the brief fling she later wrote to the Sun’s Agony Aunt ‘Dear Deirdre’ column for advice.

But it was more than a decade later when she thought about a career in the police force, the victim reported the assaults.

Balding Stephens, now 51, of Silverstone in Northants, was arrested and claimed she was a fantasist who had made up the allegations.

However, a jury heard she had written all the sordid details in a diary, including a copy of the “agony Aunt” article.

Stevens has now been jailed for a total of eight years being found guilty of 12 sex charges.

The judge Recorder Gareth Branston said Stephens targeted his victim after visiting a teen chatroom.

“You managed to fool her and she was flattered about the attention of an older man,” he said.

“You groomed her and you travelled from Oxford to Margate to meet her. You claimed you went there to investigate business opportunities but the jury rejected that.”

The judge added that after the two met Stephens began fondling her, leaving her feeling “awkward and stunned by his actions”.

The jury was told how on a number of other occasions he took his victim to the Old Water Treatment works outside Birchington and to a Margate pub where he sexually assaulted her.

On another trip to Thanet, he booked a hotel near Yorkletts where he plied her with Champagne and strawberries before sexually abusing her again.

Stephens also brought a new Renault Megane for her to see because of her interest in cars – “and you used that to groom this young girl”, the judge said.

“She was clearly not old enough for her to deal with the way that you manipulated her and wheedled yourself into her affections for your own sexual gain.

“You flattered and charmed your way into her life. You took advantage of her nativity and ignored her embarrassment.

“You didn’t care and the court must protect children.”