January 2020

Rotherham pervert blackmailed teen girls into sending explicit pictures with threats to show their families

A Rotherham man drove teenage girls to the brink of suicide when he blackmailed them into sending explicit pictures by threatening to share nude images with their families

Dominic Rhodes was about to turn 21 when he befriended seven “vulnerable” girls, four of whom were 14 and two who were just 13, on the mobile messaging app “kik”, in 2016 and 2017.

He gained their trust and engaged in sexual chat before demanding more sexual pictures of them undressed, prosecutor Nicola Quinney told Sheffield Crown Court, on Wednesday, January 22.

“He threatened to contact their friends and family and said he would send the sexual images to them,” she said. “In two cases, he followed through with those threats.”

His first victim was told by Rhodes to “break all contact with other boys,” when they spoke via the video call app Skype, before asking her to dance nude.

“On March 7, 2017, he told her he had screengrabs of the dance and was going to send them to family, friends and work colleagues.”

The court heard how Rhodes sent messages counting from one to ten to put his victim under pressure, before sending the images to her parents and brother.

In a statement, the woman said Rhodes “seemed to be a troubled soul” and their chats had “started innocently,” and he earned her trust gradually before abusing it.

She said her family’s lives “came tumbling down” as a result.

Ms Quinney explained how Rhodes researched the social media contacts of his victims, including the schools they attended, to “maximise their humiliation and stress.”

Another girl, who was 14 at the time, told police how Rhodes gained her trust before threatening to share images on Facebook.

“Everyone in my real life didn’t pay attention to me – but he did,” she told police.

She began to self-harm and felt guilty for what happened, the court heard, and her GCSEs suffered as a result.

“She lived in fear he would find her,” Ms Quinney said. “She gave him all her personal information. Now she says she is lonely because she can’t trust anyone.”

Rhodes asked one 13-year-old girl for a photograph of her in her underwear, she said.

The girl said: “I was a normal, happy teenager and now I am anxious about everything. I was so young and I was totally taken advantage of.”

One victim, who is now 17, said she became suicidal after Rhodes made threats to disclose naked pictures, and said her “the last 18 months have been horrific”.

She said she felt “ashamed and embarrassed” and was “beside myself with worry.”

“I felt worthless,” she said. “My trust in people has disappeared.”

Another girl was aged 13 when Rhodes threatened to send pictures to her mother, and when she blocked him, Rhodes used different accounts.

“He lied about his age,” she said in a statement. “I feel like I have been tricked and taken advantage of.”

His final victim, who was 17 at the time, warned her boyfriend and brother that Rhodes had threatened to send them screenshots of sexual chat between them.

Rhodes, 24, of Sheep Cote Road, pleaded guilty to causing four girls under the age of 16, and three women aged 16 or over, to engage in sexual activity, possession of six Category B indecent images of children and 45 Category C images, and two counts of disclosing a private sexual photograph, when he appeared in court on November 26, last year.

Judge Sarah Wright said Rhodes was “manipulative, aggressively demanding and ruthlessly calculating” in his threats.

“You have caused untold distress and psychological harm to each of your victims, who had each entirely trusted you,” she said.

“Your victims feel they have lost their childhood.”

She told Rhodes that if he was a mature adult, without autism, she would have sentenced him to four years in prison.

But because of strong personal mitigation and the realistic prospect of rehabilitation, she was able to suspend a two year sentence for 48 months.