Woman jailed for grooming girls online before partner sexually abused them


A young woman who approached teenage girls online before introducing them to her partner who sexually abused them has been jailed.

Hayley Morgan, 21, and her boyfriend Grant Francis, 28, were convicted of a string of sexual offences relating to girls aged between nine and 14 after a trial at Basildon Crown Court.

The trial heard that the couple conspired together between 2009 and 2011 with Francis directing Morgan to approach certain children on the internet, Essex Police said.

The behaviour came to light when a concerned parent complained about an indecent request made by Morgan to a young girl on Facebook.

Essex Police's online investigation team built up a timeline of the pair's online activity by studying computer records of them collaborating and planning abuse.

Detective Inspector Danny Stoten said: "This vile pair of offenders conspired together to groom and sexually abuse children from within the community."

Morgan, from Pitsea, admitted 17 offences including inciting a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity, sexual assault and distributing indecent photographs of children.

Francis, 28, from Vange, was convicted of 18 counts including rape, attempted rape and sexual activity with a girl aged 13 to 15. He admitted some of the counts and was found guilty of the others by a jury.

Francis was jailed for 12 years and Morgan for two-and-a-half years after a hearing on Wednesday, the force said.

Mr Stoten said: "Francis had continued to deny the full scale of his abhorrent behaviour forcing his victims to relive their ordeal in court.

"But these vulnerable victims have shown bravery beyond their years in agreeing to testify and make sure there was no escape for their abusers.

"I wish to offer all those who testified against Morgan and Francis my heartfelt thanks for their assistance."