'Superman' Facebook groomer wanted to make Valentine's Day child victim a 'bad girl'

A Facebook groomer who called himself "Superman" has been put behind bars for luring a schoolgirl to his home.

Wednesday, 22nd March 2017, 2:36 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:07 am
Newcastle Crown Court

Shah Ahmed, 25, befriended the teen over the social networking site in the early hours of Valentines' Day 2015, and within hours was claiming in telephone calls and texts that he would make her a "bad girl" and boasting about the size of his manhood.

Ahmed asked the youngster for photographs, said he wanted to kiss her and told her she was "gorgeous".

Shah Ahmed. Picture released by Northumbria Police.

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The following day, Sunderland University student Ahmed, whose profile name was Superman, invited the victim to his home, with the promise of supplying her with painkillers she had asked for.

Ahmed claimed to be an 18-year-old during the chats, but in reality was almost a decade older than the teenage girl.

Prosecutor Jonathan Devlin told Newcastle Crown Court: "He suggested she should go to his home address so they could watch television and, as he put it, hang out.

"She said she would go over but could he get her some paracetamol. He replied that he could."

Messages which helped snare Ahmed

The court heard the victim was given two strips of paracetamol tablets when she arrived at Ahmed's home, that he shared with his mum and dad, after meeting him at a nearby Metro station.

Ahmed took the youngster into his bedroom when they got to his house.

Mr Devlin added: "She stayed for some time. During the course of her stay he said the door was locked and she would stay in his room. No-one else could get in.

"She realised she had put herself into a situation and believed it was her own fault."

Shah Ahmed. Picture released by Northumbria Police.

The court heard the girl was dropped off at a Metro station after her ordeal, which has had such a devastating effect on her that she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Devlin said the teenager made a suicide attempt just a week after she was at Ahmed's house and has repeatedly tried to take her life since.

Ahmed, of Marshall Wallis Road, South Shields, pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child following sexual grooming.

He had initially denied the offences but changed his pleas to guilty just days before the trial was due to start, meaning the already traumatised teenager had to live for months with the fear of the prospect of giving evidence in court.

Messages which helped snare Ahmed

Judge Amanda Rippon jailed Ahmed for a total of 32 months. He must abide by a sexual harm prevention order and sign the sex offenders register for life.

The judge said Ahmed was not aware of his victim's circumstances but told him: "She asked you if you could get and give her paracetamol pain killers if she visited you and you said you could.

"That on it's face is an odd request, one that should, frankly, have caused you concern.

"During the visit she realised she had put herself in an unfortunate situation, perhaps a dangerous one and unfortunately she blamed herself for that.

"You did not know that she had the problems she had when you met her, save that she wanted paracetamol from you.

"You are not the only reason why she is in the position she is in but I have no doubt in the slightest you are a major contributing factor."

Judge Rippon said Ahmed has caused "severe psychological harm" to the girl.

Jeremy Barton, defending, said Ahmed, who is still a student, had not known how troubled the victim was and was able to produce references to his ordinarily positive and hard working character.

The family of the victim have supported police in releasing the messages between the victim and Ahmed to raise awareness about staying safe online and how sexual offenders will target people online.

Detective Constable Ian Moore is pleased with the outcome today and hopes it will help others protect themselves from predatory sex offenders.

“This man has without any remorse targeted a girl and abused her for his own gain. The victim has been hugely affected by this man’s actions and he is absolutely where he belongs behind bars.

“These criminals hide behind fake profiles and they will pretend to care and show you affection but it will soon become clear that they are after more than ‘friendship’.

“It is so vitally important to protect yourself online and don’t always believe what you see. Be wary of publishing any identifying information about yourself – either in your profile or in your posts – such as phone numbers, pictures of your home, or school, your address or birthday. Keep your profile closed and allow only your real friends to view your profile. Use the privacy features to restrict strangers’ access to your profile. Be guarded about who you let join your network.

“We as police officers fully understand the difficulty for parents and trying to keep up with the latest apps and sites. It would be unrealistic to ask parents and carers to understand all of them. The sites and services your child likes to use may change regularly but the messages to keep themselves safe remain the same – be kind online, think before you post and only accept friend requests form people you know and trust.

“It’s very important that we make sure young people stay safe online and are aware of the risks and what they can do to avoid them.”

If anyone has any concerns about a friend or someone they know that may be a victim of grooming, they can contact police on 101, or 999, in an emergency. Or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

For more information about grooming, online safety and grooming, search Northumbria Police Advice online or follow @northumbriapol or Facebook/Instagram (northumbriapol) #SaySomething #NPAdvice