November 2022

Snapchat predator groomed 14-year-old victim before driving to remote location and raping her

A dangerous predator who raped a girl he groomed on Snapchat has been jailed for 12 years.

36-year-old Shah Sikander began communicating with the 14-year-old victim on the social media platform, and deliberately tricked her into thinking he was a 22-year-old man called Sanchez.

Sikander offered to shower her with gifts, talked about meeting up for sex and successfully convinced her to send sexualised images of herself to him.

He then travelled from his Warrington home to meet the victim in Poulton-le-Fylde on July 15.

He drove her to a remote location in Preston and raped her. He then dropped her off in Blackpool town centre.

Sikander had sent his victim a photograph of a younger man, falsely claiming that to be him. The victim had been clear she was under the age of 16 throughout her online communication with Sikander.

Lancashire Constabulary launched an investigation and Sikander was identified via CCTV footage of him dropping the victim off. He was arrested on the M6 the following day.

Since July the victim and her family have worked closely, initially with the Constabulary’s immediate response officers who were able to secure important forensic evidence and a first account from the victim, and then with the Blackpool Child Protection Team who led the investigation and supported the family through what was a difficult and traumatic process.

Presented with overwhelming evidence, Sikander, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to rape, child abduction and sexual communication with a child.

Ordering Sikander to sign the sex offenders register for life and making him subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, Judge Guy Mathieson described the defendant as a dangerous sexual predator.

He said that there was a catalogue of aggravating features in this case and the powerful victim impact statements read out in court reminded all present of the significant impact such crimes have on victims and their families.

In her victim impact statement, the victim said: “I try not to think about what happened but when I do I cry. It’s something I really struggle to talk about but I’ll try. I find images can pop into my mind and I’ll be with my friends and suddenly be sad. It really lowers my mood.

“I really don’t know how to feel. He’s made me feel stupid. I pretend I’m OK but I often feel like it was my fault. Could I have changed it? How naive have I been.

“I try hard to push my thoughts to the back of my head but I was scared and I don’t like being scared because it makes me feel weak. Before this happened I slept well but now I wake up often in the night. If I go out I get worried if I feel that a man is walking the same way as me and I’ll change my route. I won’t walk alone.”