A paedophile from Herne Bay has been sentenced to 17 years in prison
Jamie Kennedy, of Sea View Square, Herne Bay, blackmailed a number of children into sending indecent images, and sexually assaulted several girls.
Kennedy sent the children obscene messages knowing they were underage, and showered the girls with gifts in order to manipulate them.
He threatened to share screenshots of the conversations with his victims’ friends and family members unless they met his demands for intimate photographs.
Following a complex investigation, Kennedy was arrested on 17 January 2023 and later charged with rape, sexual assault, two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, making indecent photographs of a child, and two counts of possession of indecent images of a child.
Kennedy pleaded not guilty to all charges at Canterbury Crown Court on 9 May 2022 and subsequently the case went to trial.
Further evidence revealed during the trial saw another nine charges for sexual offences added, including: two more counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, one more count of making indecent images of a child, two more counts of sexual assault, indecent assault, and three counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child.
On 8 September 2023, Kennedy was found guilty of all charges before Canterbury Crown Court and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
He must serve at least two thirds of the sentence before he can be considered for parole.
He will be subject to a three-year extended licence on release and be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for life.
Sittingbourne woman discovered fiancé was a paedophile just 17 days after their daughter was born
A woman has told of the horror of discovering her fiancé was a paedophile just days after the birth of their baby girl.
Amy – who has asked for her surname not to be used – snooped through Jamie Kennedy’s phone as he slept at their Sittingbourne home because she suspected he was cheating on her.
But instead she found he had been blackmailing children into sending him naked pictures on Instagram.
The shocking revelation sparked a series of events that would ultimately lead to Kennedy going on trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
The 41-year-old, who more recently lived opposite a play park in Herne Bay, was convicted of 16 charges relating to rape, sexual activity with children, and possessing indecent images.
After the hearing, his ex-fiancée said about the “awful” moment she learned the truth about her partner, and how she fought for years to bring him to justice.
Amy’s suspicions first arose following the birth of their daughter in 2016, as Kennedy was spending a lot of time on his phone and showed little interest in their newborn baby.
Five days after they returned home from hospital, Amy took the opportunity to check his messages.
“I was up in the middle of the night with our baby and his phone was on charge on the floor, so I picked it up thinking he was definitely having an affair,” she said.
“At first I couldn’t find anything but I kept looking and eventually I saw all these conversations with really young girls sending fully nude photos. It was awful.
“I was in complete and utter shock – we were engaged, saving for a mortgage and I’d just had a baby 17 days before.
“I literally lost everything in the space of an hour. My child no longer had a dad. My mortgage plans were off. Our wedding was off. In the snap of a finger I’d become a single parent who had essentially lost her whole life.
“I didn’t know what to do so I carried the baby into my mum’s room and said: ‘You need to get up’.
“She said ‘what’s wrong?’ and I replied: ‘Jamie’s a paedophile.’”
Three days later, after agonising over whether she was overreacting or being influenced by the trauma of her complicated birth just weeks before, Amy asked her mother to report Kennedy to the police.
The trial at Canterbury Crown Court heard Amy and her mother stayed up all night copying and transferring the evidence from Kennedy’s online communications with young girls, conscious that he had destroyed a phone in a previous argument.
Despite these events taking place in 2016, Kennedy was only convicted last month, with some of the offences he was found guilty of taking place as recently as last year.
The jury ruled he groomed a series of girls aged between 11 and 16, plying them with perfume and promises of a career in modelling, over a period of almost 25 years.
The court heard that a year after Amy raised the alarm about Kennedy, she was at barbecue when she learned her former partner had a history of targeting young girls.
Prosecutor Nina Ellin KC told the jury that when the party’s host showed a picture of her son’s christening to the gathering, one guest pointed to Kennedy and said: “Why is a nonce at a christening?”
Amy approached the guest to ask what they meant and she replied: “He’s a nonce, he’s always been a nonce. Everyone knows he’s a nonce.”
Amy later reported to police information she had received that Kennedy had been romantically pursuing an underage schoolgirl almost 10 years before.
Two years later, after discovering the lead had not been followed up, she reached out to the girl herself and asked if she would consider speaking to police.
It transpired she had been 16 at the time of Kennedy’s approaches – so not underage – but had been victim to the most heinous of crimes, which she reported to detectives with Amy’s encouragement.
During the trial, she told how Kennedy had messaged her online and made flirty conversation. But he then threatened to share the screenshots of their chats with her parents unless she did what he asked.
The blackmail escalated until she felt forced to meet him. She bravely described in court how he raped and sexually assaulted her in his car while it was parked down a country lane.
After interviewing the girl, detectives charged Kennedy, and the report of his impending court case in the media encouraged another victim to come forward.
This victim had met Kennedy more than 20 years ago, when she was just 13, and following an invite to Sunday lunch he sexually assaulted her while a relative lay passed out drunk just metres away.
In court she spoke of the guilt she felt over having not come forward sooner and potentially preventing the harm that came to his later victims.
The final charges against Kennedy related to offences that took place last year while he was on bail awaiting trial.
The court was told how he coerced a 13-year-old girl into sexual activity at his home, with the victim and her family unaware he was facing a trial for rape.
When first confronted with the allegations in a police interview, Kennedy said he was messaging children on social media purely for research purposes for an online safety app he was developing.
But after it was discovered he had only registered the business under the name ‘Keyword’ the day after he was caught, he admitted this was untrue.
However, Kennedy told jurors he only lied because he was being blackmailed by Amy – outrageously claiming that she had in fact committed all of the crimes he was accused of.
Describing her as “100% evil”, he accused her of forcing him to go to the police to admit to the offences or she would take away his newborn daughter.
Kennedy rebuked every claim made against him and said that all but the allegation stemming from more than 20 years ago could be traced back to Amy in some way.
On the charges relating to that historic abuse, he alleged the victim had seen the news of his arrest and decided to “jump on the bandwagon”.
Addressing the jury, prosecutor Nina Ellin KC rubbished these claims, saying: “If you were going to break up with someone would you do it this way? If you were going to break things off with your daughter’s father, would you want people to believe he was a paedophile? If you were going to frame someone as a paedophile, is this how you would go about it?”
Jurors took just under 11 hours to unanimously convict Kennedy of all 16 charges.
He was found guilty of two counts of causing or attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity, three counts relating to indecent images of children, six counts of rape and sexual assault, and five counts of sexual activity with a child.
Kennedy closed his eyes in anguish as soon as the first guilty verdict was read.
He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on September 8.
Following the verdict, Amy took her daughter to the park and for the first time let her play without feeling the need to stand over her shoulder or hold her hand constantly for fear that her father would appear.
She said despite her holding a non-molestation order against him he had harassed her online and in person for the last seven years, forcing her to move house three times.
She told KentOnline said: “Throughout the seven years there have been times when I’ve been beside myself, probably depressed and had overwhelming anxiety, but I’ve had to just keep going knowing eventually we will get there.
“Then when the trial arrived I didn’t want it to because I was just so scared that he would get away with it.
“Hearing the verdict was a very surreal experience. I sat between my mum and my husband and they each held one of my hands for that awful wait.
“The public gallery is so close to where the defendant sits and he came in and he just stared at me – even in the courtroom he was still trying to intimidate me.
“But then the absolute relief when I heard that ‘guilty’ was something I’ve never experienced before.
“We all burst into tears because you are all pent up with adrenaline and anxiety.
“It was surreal because I had felt like I was never going to get there. It had been going on for so long and it had such a huge impact on our lives.”
Amy admits that she has spent a long time “almost blaming myself” and questioning whether there were signs she should have seen.
“But I think as time has gone on I‘ve realised – no, there wasn’t,” she said.
“He got away with this for such a long time.”
Should he have been stopped sooner?
Although Amy is relieved “justice has prevailed”, she feels frustrated that it took seven years from Kennedy’s initial arrest in 2016 for him to be convicted.
She believes if police had been quicker to take action, the harm caused to Kennedy’s more recent victims could have been avoided.
On Kennedy’s latest victim, she said: “Can you imagine being that poor girl’s parents? Going to the police and them saying that they know that’s what he’s doing, he’s under investigation.
“How can someone who is sexually abusing children be allowed to walk the streets?”
“I just think how could you ever apologise to those parents enough, because had the case been dealt with properly from the beginning he would have been in prison and that child would not have been a victim.”