April 2020

Face of teen who sexually groomed underage girls – and police fear there may be other victims

A teenager who sexually groomed two young girls has been locked up after appearing in court to admit his crimes.

Brandon Vernon sent “highly sexualised” messages to his young victims even though he knew they were both under the age of consent, police said.

He was placed under investigation late last year when the mother of one of the girls contacted police to raise her concerns about him.

Both girls were spoken to by police, and the nature and extent of Vernon’s offending emerged.

Vernon, 18, pleaded guilty at Leicester Crown Court in February to the following offences against his first victim: two counts of sexual activity with a child, one of sexual communication with a child and one of distributing an indecent image of a child.

In relation to the second child, he pleaded guilty to one count of sexual communication with a child and two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Vernon appeared at the same court today and was sentenced to three years’ detention in a young offenders institution.

At the conclusion of proceedings, Leicestershire Police said its detectives believed there might be more victims who are yet to be traced.

Releasing a detailed account of the case, the force said it opened an investigation into Vernon, of Fountains Avenue, Eyres Monsell, Leicester, in late-December last year when a parent rang the force because she believed Vernon was sexually grooming her daughter.

In a statement, the force said the teenage girl was interviewed, telling officers that she and Vernon had been messaging each other and the messages would often have a sexual reference.

“The girl was also concerned that she had been sent by Vernon an indecent image of another child,” it added.

At that stage, Vernon was arrested on suspicion of committing those offences and was later released on bail while officers conducted further inquiries, including an examination of his electronic devices.

In January this year, police received a call from another parent concerned that her daughter had engaged in sexual activity with Vernon in early December 2019.

The second child was also interviewed by detectives, the force said.

The statement continued: “The teenage girl detailed that she met Vernon through a friend in November, the previous month, and they began messaging each other, which often would have a sexual reference.

“Vernon initially told the victim that he was the same age as her. She later found out that he was 18 years old.

“As part of the victim’s disclosure and subsequent inquiries, Vernon was arrested for these offences.”