Joshua Plunkett of Reginald Road, Lewisham, was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on Thursday, 18 November to 14-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. He will serve at least eight-and-a-half years of the sentence in prison, with the remainder to be served on licence. He also received a 15 year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will be on the Sex Offenders Register.
He was convicted at the same court on Friday, 17 September of:
– Possession of a prohibited image;
– Sexual communications with a child;
– Controlling coercive behaviour;
– Disclosing private photographs;
– Actual bodily harm;
– Two counts of sexual activity with a child;
– Perverting the course of justice;
– Causing a child to watch a sexual act;
– Breach of a Sexual Risk Order;
– Failing to comply with section 49 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
The court heard that Plunkett targeted five teenage girls aged between 13 and 18, between 2016 and 2020.
After befriending his victims online, he would then exercise coercive control and abuse them physically, sexually and emotionally. Several victims told detectives he used ‘strangle holds’ on them. He broke the finger of one of his victims and bit her so forcefully that a complete mouth impression was left.
Plunkett used coercive control to dominate his vulnerable victims and would publish graphic images of them online to punish them and cause embarrassment if they upset him or tried to break contact.
Even after he was arrested and charged, following a comprehensive investigation by the Met’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Team, his reign of terror did not stop as he sought to intimidate one of his victims while on remand to avoid justice.
Plunkett’s offending began in 2016, then aged 20, when he started an online conversation with [Victim 1] who was 15 at the time. As the victim started to feel Plunkett genuinely liked her, he started to ask her to send him intimate pictures of herself. She told him no because she was not ready and Plunkett responded by sending nasty messages and abusing her via text message. The victim relented and sent him a series of sexual photographs.
In July 2017, Plunkett began a conversation with [Victim 2] who was 13. He asked her how old she was, and she added a year to her true age and responded 14, but that did not deter Plunkett and he sent her a series of sexual messages.
[Victim 3] first met Plunkett through Facebook when she was 15 and they started messaging. They met up in March 2018 when she was 18 and he was 22. As the relationship developed, Plunkett began demanding access to her social media accounts. In May 2018, Plunkett demanded her phone and when she refused he grabbed her around the neck and strangled her. He did the same thing just three weeks later. In June 2018, the victim ended the relationship. This angered Plunkett who logged onto her social media account and was abusive and rude and sent a number of explicit pictures and videos of the two of them engaging in sexual activity to her friends and family. Plunkett’s actions ruined the victim’s modelling career and damaged her self-esteem.
Plunkett met [Victim 4] in 2018 when she was 15 and he had sex with her. In September 2018 the two were play fighting when he deliberately took hold of her finger and tried to snap it, which resulted in a suspected break. While on remand in prison in December 2018, Plunkett persuaded the victim that it was her fault he was still in custody because of what she had said in her police interview. Over the next four weeks or so he made a concerted effort to persuade the victim to retract her account that there had been any sexual element to their relationship. His efforts worked and she withdrew her statement in January 2019. However, after speaking with detectives she thankfully changed her mind and further disclosed the full extent of the abuse in June 2020.
In January 2020, having been released from custody on bail, Plunkett attended [Victim 4]’s home uninvited, giving an excuse that he thought he had taken her keys a couple of weeks earlier. Breaching the Sexual Risk Order that detectives had secured, he entered the victim’s bedroom while she was listening to music and immediately started punching her repeatedly in the face and head, causing her to fall to the floor. He then kicked her in the face and gave her a cut to her forehead which bled profusely. She managed to get slightly towards the door when he pulled her back by her hair – pulling some of it out – and she fell to the floor again where he resumed kicking her. He then took the victim’s mobile phone and bankcard and left the scene. All this was witnessed by her 12-year-old sister.
Plunkett contacted [Victim 5] over Snapchat in September 2019. He told her he was 16, but he was in fact almost 24. The victim told him her true age, 14. Plunkett asked the victim to watch some of his videos on Snapchat story. One of the videos he sent was of him having sex, so the victim blocked him. In the summer of 2020, while on remand for these offences, Plunkett attempted to add the victim as one of the contacts he could phone from prison. He lied to the prison authorities and said she was his 24-year-old cousin, meaning he once again breached his Sexual Risk Order.
Detectives began their investigation into Plunkett in September 2018, and first arrested him in November 2018. He was further arrested another three times throughout 2018 and 2019. It was a complex investigation which involved five victims and offending dating back to 2016. It took eight months of detectives closely working with the victims before the full extent of Plunkett’s abuse came out.
Detectives also worked tirelessly behind the scenes to protect the victims and any potential future ones by doing things such as applying for Sexual Risk Orders, working closely with the prison to gain intelligence and making a Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act application after he refused to provide the PIN for his phone.
Detective Constable Natalie Franklin, the investigating officer from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Team, said: “Plunkett is a cruel monster who preyed on young teenage girls. He would make their lives a living nightmare for his own twisted pleasure by abusing them with sexual, physical and emotional violence. He is the personification of violence against women. Even when he was on remand awaiting trial he exercised his control by intimidating one of his victims and making her so fearful that she withdrew her statement.
“This was a complex investigation which involved hundreds of hours of enquiries to be carried out, but we were happy to work around the clock to make sure that Plunkett was brought to justice so he could not hurt and control any more young girls.
“I would like to praise the bravery of Plunkett’s victims who came forward and gave evidence. It cannot have been easy for them to re-live their traumatic ordeals, but their courage resulted in us being able to build a strong case against Plunkett which has resulted in him being put behind bars for a considerable amount of time.”