March 2018

Sexual predator jailed for grooming teenage girls he called his ‘sexy circle’

A sexual ‘Pied Piper’ who exploited underage girls and groomed them for sexual activity has been jailed for five years.

Ryan Earls, 24, befriended girls four or five years younger than himself, encouraged them to confide their problems, smoke weed and drink alcohol, before kissing or having sex with them, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He ignored repeated warnings from the police to stay away from the vulnerable teens, who he referred to as his ‘sexy circle’, and would meet in churchyards, at the school gates, or other public spaces.

Earls, of High Street, Ilfracombe, pleaded guilty to nine counts of sexual activity with a child and one of making indecent images of children.

Police eventually brought Earls to justice after the girls, now several years older and more mature, summoned the courage to speak out.

Two of his victims read emotionally-charged personal statements describing the damage he had done to them.

Both described the emotional hold he had over them and the destruction he had caused in their lives.

One said: “I feel Ryan needs to spend time in prison and see what he has done and learn what he has done is wrong.”

She said she found it difficult to trust men, form relationships with them, was worried about sex, and suffered depression and anxiety.

A second victim said what happened to her had never gone away and would often come back to haunt her.

“It’s killed me,” she said.

“Memories come back like stabs in the chest. I haven’t been able to be young, carefree or spontaneous.”

She said her home life had been deeply affected and former friends had turned against her.

“I want Ryan to go to prison. I feel I’ve suffered for six years and want him to suffer for the same length of time. Most of all I want closure – I just want it to be over.”

The court was told the offences happened when Earls was aged 17 and 18, briefly homeless and living in supported accommodation in North Devon.

Staff at a council-funded organisation warned Earls about his behaviour after he was frequently seen in the company of younger teens.

On one occasion a girl aged 13 in her school uniform was found in his room. Earls was warned about his conduct and staff referred to him as a ‘Pied Piper’ character who exploited the ‘magnetic attraction’ he held on younger teens.

Judge David Evans said vulnerable girls would gather around him when they should have been at school.

“It’s clear the attraction for them was being in the presence of an older, charismatic male,” said the judge.

“The ease with which all could drink alcohol and smoke tobacco or cannabis, which you did not dissuade them from doing. Sometimes these girls were under the influence. The topics of conversation were sexual and sexual activity was frequently spoken about.”

Earls was warned to stop seeing the girls. He was served child abduction notices but ignored them.

“You could have been in no doubt how the law and those trying to support you viewed these sorts of inappropriate conduct with underage girls,” said the judge.

“It’s difficult to know what the authorities could have done, short of locking you up and throwing away the key to keep you away from underage girls.”

The full extent of his offences came to light in June 2014 when the manager at his accommodation in Barnstaple reported concerns about images on Earls’ computer.

Police found indecent images. Some of the photos were of girls he had befriended and they had sent to him. But there were also search terms indicating an interest in underage sex.

When police spoke to the mother of one victim she told them Earls had a ‘hypnotic’ hold on her daughter.

 

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