A COUPLE have been jailed after abducting, exploiting and endangering two teenage girls in May last year.
Jason Jezzard, 20, of Dorset Close, Littlehampton, and Melanie Smith, 27, of The Causeway, Goring, appeared at Chichester Crown Court on Friday (January 23), having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing.
Jezzard was sentenced to a total of four years and two months’ imprisonment in a young offenders’ institution, having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to abduction, one offence of robbery and one offence of causing actual bodily harm.
The robbery was of a mobile phone from another 16-year-old girl on April 22, 2014 - not either of the girls abducted - and the assault was committed against a man on the same date.
Smith was sentenced to a total of eight months’ imprisonment for each of three offences of abduction, all to run concurrently, having also pleaded guilty at previous hearing.
Detective Sergeant Alex Lowe, of the West Sussex Missing Persons Team said: “Jezzard and Smith had cynically drawn two vulnerable and naive young girls into an environment of petty crime, drugs and alcohol.
“They did not take the girls, who they knew, away by force or threat, or physically harm them, but they did over time systematically exploit their naivety to draw them on several occasions into a style of life that put them considerable risk.
“The girls were in local authority care, and remain so, and we worked with West Sussex Children’s Services to ensure that this pattern of behaviour did not continue.
“Both Jezzard and Smith had previously been given formal warnings, known as Child Abduction Warning Notices (CAWNs) under the Child Abduction Act 1984, telling them that they should not be associating with the girls, but they ignored these, so we arrested them.
“Police and Children’s Services will continue to work together to seek to safeguard vulnerable young people.”