Letchworth youth group leader jailed for sexual exploitation of teen

Michael Elias was sentenced to three years in prison at St Albans Crown Court last week for a series

Michael Elias was sentenced to three years in prison at St Albans Crown Court last week for a series of charges including sexual exploitation of children and making and possessing indecent images of children. Picture: Herts police - Credit: Archant

A Letchworth man who ran a youth group from a town community centre has been sentenced to three years in prison for making and posessing indecent photographs and moving images of children, and the sexual exploitation of a 16-year-old girl.

Michael Elias, of Swanstand, was given the three-year jail sentence at St Albans Crown Court last Tuesday for two counts of intentionally causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child aged 16, and being in possession of indecent still and moving images of a child.

Elias was found guilty of intentionally exploiting a 16-year-old girl between August and September 2016, by asking her to take a shower and video herself doing so.

Similarly, between June and September 2016, the court heard how the 45-year-old’s exploitation caused a girl, also aged 16, to send him indecent photographs of herself. For both of these counts he was sentenced to 2½ years, to run concurrently.

Elias ran a youth group at the Jackmans Community Centre, which performed at the annual fun day.

Det Con Manjinder Thandi, from Herts police’s Child Online Safeguarding Team, said: “Elias deliberately targeted a vulnerable girl and groomed her for his own sexual gratification.

“I hope that knowing Elias is now behind bars will help the victim to begin to move on from her ordeal.”

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Other charges Elias was sentenced for include possession of indecent moving images of children in category A – images involving penetrative sexual activity – B and C in February 2017.

He was also guilty of making one category A and four category B images between July 2012 and February 2017.

For these, Judge Philip Grey handed Elias a six-month prison sentence to run consecutively, and a one-year sentence to run concurrently – making the total prison sentence three years.

He was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order until further notice.

A resident of the Jackmans Estate – who asked to remain anonymous – told the Comet: “I’ve known him from our estate for years. I’m very shocked, I wouldn’t have thought he would be like that, but of course you never know.

“People had a lot of respect for him in this estate, and he’s done all of this fundraising in the community. Now I have started questioning why?”

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