A 12-year-old child in school uniform was abducted outside a Greater Manchester railway station and driven 120 miles to a campsite in north Wales.
Ava Jones, 28, and Trevor Carr, 40, threw a blanket over their victim’s head who was told to turn off their phone so they couldn’t be tracked.
The pair abducted the child, who was in school uniform, outside Wigan North Western railway station and argued during the journey to a campsite in Abergynolwyn.
Police rang during the drive and the child screamed but Jones put a hand over their mouth and told officers that her name was David Jones and that she was camping in Ireland.
Detectives tracked Jones’ phone to Fferm Cedris Farm Campsite in Abergynolwyn.
Jones, who identifies as female, had pitched a tent and was staying in it with the child in separate sleeping bags.
Jones and Carr both pleaded guilty to abduction and yesterday both were jailed for at least two years.
The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, started speaking with Jones in September of last year, prosecution barrister Matthew Curtis told Bolton Crown Court.
Their early conversations mostly revolved around anime – a Japanese animation – and they also discussed gender identity, the court heard.
The child’s grandmother had discovered the conversations with Jones and told the 28-year-old to stop. She also warned Jones that it was ‘grooming’ and threatened legal action.
On October 4, the victim went to school but did not return home. At 4.19pm, the child’s mother reported them as missing and found a note in their bedroom which mentioned a grey Ford Focus Estate and Wigan North Western railway station.
The note also made reference to suicidal thoughts and the court heard that the child had been bullied at school.
Jones – who identifies as female – told police ‘there’s another gentleman involved as well’ and they found Carr sleeping in his car at a campsite near Minffordd.
Carr told police: ‘I know where they are’ and that he had ‘advised them to go back’.
During interview, Jones attempted to blame Carr, who described the abduction as a ‘bad idea’. She claimed to be scared around Carr and said that they had previously had a relationship.
Jones admitted to talking to the victim for two months. She said the child’s grandmother knew they were in contact and claimed her and the victim’s mother had given their consent for the trip.
She said that the child wanted to run away to Wales and claimed she didn’t know she was breaking the law and only knew the child’s age when she saw a PE kit in the tent.
Carr stated that he had not planned to abduct the child and said he had not had any contact with the victim until they met in his car. He said it was Jones who asked him to drive from Wales to Wigan to collect the child.
He said they went via Liverpool where they bought new tyres for his car and blankets for the tent. Police asked Carr whether he had permission from the child’s parents. He replied by asking why he would need permission if the child had ‘already decided to run away’.
Jones, of no fixed abode, and Carr, from Bootle, Merseyside, both pleaded guilty to abduction on the basis that the offence was not sexually motivated.
The court heard that the child did not report any sexualised conversations or state that any sexualised photographs had been shared.
In a victim personal statement, the child said: ‘My anxiety has got a lot worse. I’ve lost a lot of friends’. The child also said that they ‘cry for hours on end’ when they think about the incident and has since self-harmed. The victim’s mother added that before the abduction, the child was ‘lovely’ but is now ‘distant’.
Defence barrister Kevin Liston described Jones as a ‘complex character with a number of mental health issues’. Mr Liston described the offence as ‘amateur’ and ‘unsophisticated’, and the relationship with the victim as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘misguided’.
Defending Carr, Steven Swift made reference to lack of relevant previous convictions and spoke about Carr’s struggles with anxiety and depression. Mr Swift also stressed that Carr had been uncomfortable with the situation and had argued with Jones about it.
Judge Tom Gilbart jailed Jones for two years and two months. Meanwhile, Carr was sentenced to two years behind bars.
He said: ‘This is a deeply troubling case in which you both behaved in a bizarre and unsettling way. Adolescence is an uncertain time for many, often filled with insecurity and concerns about identity and you, Ava Jones, preyed upon the insecurities of your victim.
‘Your behaviour in the build up to the offence can be categorised as grooming. You knew full well what you were doing was wrong.
‘Trevor Carr, you at least to some extent sought to distance yourself. However you’re both responsible for something that is obviously and seriously wrong – you abducted a child – away from home.’