THE story of how twelve men sexually exploited a 13-year-old girl they had met online can today be revealed in full by The Press.

Ten men, mostly from York and North Yorkshire, are now serving prison sentences totalling 34 years and four months passed during court cases over the past year. One has received a community sentence and one is awaiting sentence. 


The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, has declared the girl is now so emotionally and mentally scarred it may be many years before the full impact of their crimes on her is known. She is receiving intensive specialist help.

Today we reveal for the first time, that although they didn’t know each other, they all abused the same girl and all knew her real age.

The first paedophile, Mark Andrew Harris, 39, had sex with her a few days after her 13th birthday. According to prosecution barrister Sarah Mallett, he began “turning a frightened child into a very sexualised child.”

He ignored warnings from her mother and the police and continued to have sex with the girl, whom he met through a friend of a friend.

Most of the men got to know her after she put a profile on a dating website claiming to be 18. When they contacted her she revealed her true age. Mobile phone messages revealed she wanted love but found only men interested in sex.

The last, Mark Stuart Lindsay, 33, got the girl to tell her parents she was having a sleepover with a classmate while she travelled secretly to his Grimsby home so he and his friends could sexually abuse her.

When she got lost travelling home by train, her mother realised something was seriously wrong, checked her mobile phone on her return and handed it to police.

It contained thousands of sexually explicit text messages sent by the 12 men to her over an eight-month period. They had also used the internet to contact her.

Between them, they persuaded her to pose for scores of sexual pictures and videos for their sexual gratification and met her for sexual activity in several locations.

One, Matthew Gareth Horrocks, 30, had previous convictions for harassing a 17-year-old girl and being a public nuisance by sexually pestering four other women and girls.
Police analysing the phone’s contents identified and contacted 30 suspects, some of whom were cautioned.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, head of crime at North Yorkshire Police, said: “This investigation uncovered large-scale exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of several men, some of whom were married and had successful careers.

“Although some of the suspects ceased all contact with the girl when they discovered her age, many didn’t and they have been punished appropriately for their crimes.

“The scale of the data analysed to reach such a conclusion is matched only by the determination and dedication of the investigation team and our safeguarding partners all of whom acted in close partnership I am very proud of their efforts in what was a difficult investigation”

“We all have a responsibility to ensure our children are safe and to that end North Yorkshire Police works with numerous agencies to educate professionals, parents and children to safeguard children from harm.”

All 12 men have been put on the sex offenders’ register for between five years and life, banned from working with children for life, and made subject to sexual offences prevention orders.

Claude Knights, chief executive of national child safety charity Kidscape, said: “These are very, very serious crimes. I think this case reinforces the message that parents should talk to their children about their online activity and should increase their own knowledge of the internet.”