A SHOP worker has been jailed after she “groomed” a teenager into having sex with her.
Ellee Nicoll bought the girl presents, gave her money, called her “pretty” and paid other compliments before they declared their love for each other and engaged in sexual activity.
It was heard the now 25-year-old Swindon woman “cultivated” the relationship, engaging in months of sexting with the teen, and decided to watch a “lesbian film” with her to normalise “what [she] wanted to happen”.
It was not until the girl’s mother became concerned at how close the pair were and told the teenager what grooming may look like that the penny dropped, leading to her feeling “sick” about what had happened.
Sentencing her to immediate prison, Judge Jason Taylor QC said that “alarm bells should have been ringing loud and clear in your mind, but you were seemingly tone death”.
He acknowledged the victim’s mental health struggles and said that Nicoll “must have realised what” her grooming meant to her.
She was jailed for two years and two months.
Opening the case at Swindon Crown Court on Thursday (May 26), prosecutor Andrew Houston said that Nicoll, who works at a Swindon Co-Op, initially became friends with the girl, and that the victim looked up to her like a “big sister”.
But the relationship quickly changed, he said, with the victim making the first move to turn the conversation to sexting, and also sending her pictures of her naked and in underwear.
It was claimed that Nicoll sent pictures back, although this was disputed by the defence.
As time went on, messages recovered showed “heavy sexual flirtation” between the two, and associates of the defendant realised that the pair were “touchy feely” and that they would smack each other on the bottom.
Mr Houston said that Nicoll’s mother had warned her to stay away from the schoolgirl, but she ignored the warnings.
Events came to a head one night where the girl’s mother offered Nicoll a place to stay when she had a family disagreement, and not realising the closeness of the girls, said they could share a bed.
He told the court that they watched “a lesbian film in bed, they then agreed to do stuff to each other”.
In the following days, Nicoll described it as “the best night of her life”, and the victim said she had “no regrets”.
Mitigating, Gareth James said the offending was “out of character” and that it has “had a devastating effect on her already”.
“She does seem to be a defendant who can properly and accurately be described as a vulnerable defendant herself and perhaps immature, and perhaps didn’t think through the consequences of her actions, having effectively fallen for feelings she shouldn’t have had,” Mr James said.
He added that it has had a “significant adverse impact” on his client’s mental health and she is voluntarily working to address this. He pleaded with Judge Taylor to impose a suspended sentence.
He said: “Given the undoubted effect already upon Miss Nicoll and her concerns for her future problems and the work she has already undertaken on a voluntary basis, [this] demonstrates very clearly there is a significant prospect of rehabilitation.”
Sentencing, Judge Taylor acknowledged that Nicoll “did not set out” to groom the girl, but that grooming occurred nonetheless.
“When she sent you naked images of herself, the appropriate thing to do was gently say ‘it is not appropriate’. You didn’t.
“You had become so desensitised from her age it didn’t give you pause for thought in the cold hard light of day.
“’No regrets’ for [the victim] turned to embarrassment, and by the time she was interviewed by police, she felt sick.
“Sometimes teenagers just need to be protected from themselves.”
Judge Taylor continued: “Whilst female offending of this type is more unusual, it is no less serious. There is still a child victim who will be affected by what you did. Experience of the courts has shown this time and time again.
“For that reason, even if the sentence had been within the range of being suspendable, I would have reluctantly said appropriate punishment could only be achieved by immediate imprisonment.”
Having pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child and sexual communication with a child, Nicoll, of Concord Walk, Walcot, was jailed for two years and two months.
A sexual harm prevention order was made for 10 years, as was a restraining order preventing her from contacting the victim.
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