Bravery award for Tonbridge teens after sex offender arrested

Bravery award for Tonbridge teens after sex offender arrested
COURAGE AND CONVICTION: Elisa Marsden and Samuel Kearns receive their silver medals from Chief Constables Sara Thornton and Alan Pughsley

The ceremony in Bloomsbury Street, London honoured members of the public who have attempted to help those who are vulnerable and have put themselves at risk to prevent crime.

Elisa Marsden and Samuel Kearns received silver medals for helping police arrest a sex offender.

They received their awards from Chief Constable Sara Thornton, Chair of the NPCC, and Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley.

A man approached 14-year-old Elisa near Tonbridge Castle on 19 July 2017 and asked her to look at an indecent image on his phone.

She shouted for help and 14-year-old Samuel Kearns came to her aid. Elisa explained what had happened and asked him to call the police.

The two children then followed the man for 16 minutes, providing a commentary of what was happening over the phone.

They tried to persuade adult bystanders to help them, but the suspect told the passers-by that Elisa was his daughter.

On his way to Tonbridge train station, the man was seen throwing his mobile into the river – Elisa took the police back to the spot later.

The pair followed the man to the station and alerted security staff. Two off-duty Metropolitan Police officers on the platform heard Elisa talking and went to help. They detained the man until Kent Police officers arrived to arrest him.

It was later discovered the man had already followed and shown other children indecent images that same day.

Chief Constable Pughsley said: “It is a privilege to be present to see these Kent residents recognised for their extraordinary actions.

“These are people who refused to stand by when a serious crime was being committed in front of them. They put themselves at risk of harm because they believed it was the right thing to do.”

He added: “Police officers often go above and beyond the call of duty, but these award-winners are people that acted without the training of police officers and did so with the utmost bravery in difficult, challenging, and frightening circumstances. They are very worthy of this high recognition.”

The offender, from Maidstone, pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children, two counts of causing a child to watch a sexual act, and two breaches of a sexual offences prevention order issued in October 2011.

He was jailed for three years and eight months with an additional three years on extended licence. He was also made subject of a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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