September 2022

Ebbw Vale paedophile ‘groomed 12-year-old girl’

A paedophile “groomed a 12-year-old schoolgirl” he met online after pretending he was a teenage gardener.

But Declan Hatton, 30, from Ebbw Vale, was actually being duped by an undercover police officer who had joined a Kik group chat.

‘Layla’ wasn’t a real child but a decoy set up to catch paedophiles, Newport Crown Court was told.

Hatton had set up a bogus account on Kik with a false picture and profile posing as a 19-year-old gardener from Blackwood.

After moving to a private chat with the ‘Layla’, he asked her to perform a sexual act on herself and tried to persuade her to watch a sexually explicit video.

The defendant, of Curre Street, Cwm, was found guilty by a jury following a trial of three offences.

They were told by prosecutor Heath Edwards how Hatton had said to ‘Layla’ that she should “keep this to yourself” and “you can’t say anything until your 16”.

He was convicted of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity and attempting to cause a child to watch an image of sexual activity.

The offences were committed between May 10, 2021 and May 17, 2021.

Nicholas Gedge, representing Hatton, said his client’s best mitigation was that he had no previous convictions for similar offences.

His only previous brush with the law was for driving without due care and attention.

The judge was told how Hatton had continued to maintain his innocence in his pre-sentence report 

Judge Daniel Williams said to Hatton: “You knew that Kik was popular with children.

“Your profile and picture were false – you claimed you were a 19-year-old gardener from Blackwood.

“You believed ‘Layla’ was a 12-year-old girl living with foster parents.”

The defendant was jailed for three years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

He was also made the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and must pay a victim surcharge following his release from prison.