Man fled overseas after grooming girls

A MAN who groomed two vulnerable young girls over the internet and then met them for sex was last night starting a three-year jail sentence after being extradited from the Czech Republic to face charges.

A MAN who groomed two vulnerable young girls over the internet and then met them for sex was last night starting a three-year jail sentence after being extradited from the Czech Republic to face charges.

Patrick Burnell, 21, had sex in his car with a 13-year-old girl from Kesgrave after first contacting the girl through a social networking site, Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday.

The girl was said to be “scared and confused” after the sex assault and later made a complaint about the matter. But while under investigation for this, Burnell had already made contact with a 12-year-old girl from Suffolk who he again met through the internet. He arranged to meet her and then sexually assaulted her after giving her a lift in his car, leaving his victim in shock and crying.

Matthew McNiff, prosecuting, told how Burnell had groomed the 12-year-old girl before meeting her, sending her explicit sexual messages.


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A further complaint was made but Burnell fled to Prague instead of facing charges. The court heard he was living in a rented apartment in Prague for two years with his girlfriend before finally being traced through Interpol and brought back to Norfolk to face charges.

His arrest came following a joint investigation involving Norfolk and Suffolk police.

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Yesterday Burnell, formerly of Bourchier Close, Hadleigh, was jailed for three years after admitting to two offences of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, sexually assaulting another girl of 12 and a charge of grooming her. Burnell was also placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for life and made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for 10 years under which he can not have unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 or work with children.

Sentencing him, Judge Peter Jacobs said Burnell's actions had affected both his victims, particularly the 13-year-old who still needed counselling.

Jonathan Morgans, mitigating, said Burnell was 19 when he committed the offences and had now matured and changed his attitude. He said that Burnell had pleaded guilty and was of previous good character: “There is a significant change in this young man.”

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