Kayleigh Haywood murder: Stephen Beadman jailed for life

Luke Harlow and Stephen Beadman Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Luke Harlow (left), from Ibstock in Leicestershire, groomed Kayleigh Haywood and his friend and neighbour Stephen Beadman raped and murdered her

A man who raped and murdered a 15-year-old girl after his friend had groomed her through Facebook and texts has been jailed for at least 35 years.

Stephen Beadman, 29, who admitted killing Kayleigh Haywood, was also convicted of falsely imprisoning her.

His friend Luke Harlow, 28, who lured Kayleigh to his home after contacting her online, was jailed for 12 years.

Judge Mrs Justice Cox said the case showed "the dangers to which young users of social media are exposed".

Beadman was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 35 years.

Harlow was sentenced for sexually touching and falsely imprisoning Kayleigh, and grooming her and two other girls.

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Kayleigh Haywood was killed in November after going to stay at Luke Harlow's flat

Live updates: Life in prison for schoolgirl's killer

How murdered schoolgirl was groomed online

Kayleigh, from Measham, Leicestershire, started chatting with Luke Harlow on Facebook just two weeks before she was killed.

They exchanged 2,600 messages - mainly by text - which led her to believe Harlow was her boyfriend.

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Media captionPolice interviews with Kayleigh's abusers

She agreed to stay at his flat in the nearby village of Ibstock on Friday 13 November and her father dropped her off outside Ibstock Community College.

On Harlow's instruction, Kayleigh had told her parents she was staying with a friend.

Beadman, who lived next to Harlow, told police he met Kayleigh for the first time when he went round to the flat on the Saturday evening.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kayleigh Haywood was kept prisoner at Luke Harlow's flat in George Avenue, Ibstock

The two men were found guilty of keeping her prisoner between 21:00 GMT on the Saturday and 03:00 on the Sunday, but the judge said it may never be known exactly what went on in the flat during that time.

A neighbour saw Beadman chasing Kayleigh, who was naked from the waist down, as she fled the flat in the early hours of the Sunday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Stephen Beadman lived next to his friend Luke Harlow in George Avenue

Beadman then took her across a road where he raped her, before marching her for a mile-and-a-half across rough ground to where he battered her to death.

He told police he used a brick as a weapon, and injuries to his face and hand were thought to be evidence of a struggle with Kayleigh.

Miranda Moore QC, for the prosecution, said: "Kayleigh was not submissive, she fought and fought and she ran and she was chased by him.

"She was fighting him off, hence the injuries to his hand, she was shouting 'Leave me alone, get off me'."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Kayleigh's body was found in a hedgerow on the outskirts of Ibstock after a huge police search

Her body was found three days later, hidden in a hedgerow near a stream after a police search involving more than 300 officers.

The judge said Kayleigh had so many serious facial injuries she had to be identified through her dental records.

The judge told Beadman: "The pain, terror and anguish that would have been suffered by this young girl is truly horrifying to contemplate.

"I am entirely satisfied on the evidence that she would have been acutely distressed and frightened.

"She must have been absolutely terrified."

'Robbed of my beautiful girl'

Image caption Kayleigh's mother Stephanie Haywood (right) and father Martin Whitby (left) have been devastated by her death

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Stephanie Haywood, Kayleigh's mother said: "How do I begin to tell you how I feel.

"How does a mother explain to someone how her child has been taken away by evil people?

"There is so much anger inside my heart. I am completely destroyed, there's no words to describe in this world how I feel each minute of each day.

"How could this happen, robbed of my daughter, robbed of my beautiful girl?

"I'll never see her grow into a young lady, into a woman and mother, how cruel can someone be?

"No sentence will be enough, we cannot get back what we have had taken away, a beautiful young life."

Kayleigh's father Martin Whitby said in his statement: "How do you get through each day, some people ask. The answer is I don't, I just exist from day to day."

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Image caption Kayleigh Haywood's body was found after an extensive police search involving more than 300 officers

Beadman and Harlow showed no emotion as the sentences were read out but there were cries of "yes" from the public gallery, which was packed with members of Kayleigh's family, including her parents.

Many family members had been in tears as they heard the judge describe how Kayleigh was groomed online by Harlow.

The judge told Kayleigh's parents they should not blame themselves for not spotting the dangers of online grooming.

She said: "It seems to me this is every parent's worst nightmare.

"It is absolutely clear to me absolutely no blame can be attached to them for what happened."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The shocked communities of Measham and Ibstock left flowers in tribute to Kayleigh and hung up purple ribbons, as that was her favourite colour

The charges

Image copyright PA
Image caption Stephen Beadman (second left) and Luke Harlow (right) were both convicted of falsely imprisoning Kayleigh

Stephen Beadman

  • Admitted murdering Kayleigh
  • Admitted raping Kayleigh
  • Denied falsely imprisoning her, but was convicted after trial

Luke Harlow

  • Admitted meeting a child (Kayleigh) following sexual grooming
  • Admitted two counts of sexual activity with a child (Kayleigh)
  • Admitted attempting to meet two other children (both 15-year-old girls) following sexual grooming
  • Denied falsely imprisoning Kayleigh, convicted after trial
Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption In his police interview, Luke Harlow said he felt "bad" about inviting Kayleigh to his flat, because she was "too young"
Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Stephen Beadman told interviewing officers he could not explain what happened inside the flat but said there had "obviously been a struggle"

Gary Bell QC, defending Harlow, said his client did not know Beadman would kill the teenager but added: "She should not have been put in the path of the monster that lived next door.

"She should have been home in bed."

He said his client had been attacked in prison and had to spend all day locked in his cell for fear of further assaults.

Image caption Kayleigh Haywood and Luke Harlow became Facebook friends just two weeks before her death

The judge was told earlier that police found child abuse images and extreme pornography on computers belonging to Beadman.

Officers also found that he had been searching for extreme pornography the day before he went round to Harlow's flat when Kayleigh was there.

The judge said the other two girls groomed by Harlow were both deeply traumatised by what had happened to them, although one had told police she still loved him.

Both believed he was their boyfriend, the judge said, which testified to the chilling nature of online grooming.

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