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Rapist from Sandwich who preyed on school children jailed

A calculating rapist who stalked social media to blackmail children for vulnerable images of themselves has been jailed.

Daniel Noelken, of Sandwich preyed upon school-aged children online, and secretly filmed other young boys naked in a changing room, between 2017 and 2019.

Daniel Noelken, of Sandwich
Daniel Noelken, of Sandwich

The 23-year-old was convicted unanimously at Canterbury Crown Court following a trial in September last year.

Noelken was jailed for 12 years at the same court on Friday and handed an extended four year licence period.

Posing as a child on social media, Noelken tricked his victims into sending him illicit images of themselves.

He threatened to send the material to their Instagram friends if they refused to hand over more.

Noelken would also use Facebook to infiltrate a family and rape a boy with learning difficulties after offering to mow their lawn and babysit.

Another potential victim's mum told jurors during the trial how he pestered her for months on the social networking site, repeatedly asking to baby-sit her son.

But Noelken’s string of chilling private messages prompted her to become suspicious and cut contact.

The offending surfaced after the boy he raped disclosed to adults the extent of abuse he suffered at Noelken's hands.

After police arrested Noelken, forensic testing showed the victim's clothes contained his DNA.

And computer hard drives were discovered containing folders named after different children, each containing indecent images.

Daniel Noelken has been jailed for 12 years
Daniel Noelken has been jailed for 12 years

Social media transcripts showed Noelken blackmailing and threatening two children, one of whom he tried grooming to meet, prosecutor Serena Gates explained during the trial.

“One victim stated he received an Instagram direct message from a person saying she was 11 and lived in Thanet," Ms Gates said.

“The account spammed him with photos, the victim sent photos and videos of things the account asked him to do.”

Growing increasingly uncomfortable with the demands, the child blocked the account prompting Noelken to hatch a new plan.

The schemer befriended a young girl on social media then blackmailed her to send illegal photos of herself.

"We commend all of the victims who spoke to us and left the court in no doubt as to the severity of Noelken’s predatory offending ..."

He then found a way to send the images to his male victim and demand more in return, while threatening to publicly release videos which would embarrass the child.

In video evidence played in court, the victim told officers he “just wanted it to stop,” adding: “The account threatened to send photos of me to my friends, then I got loads of random accounts following me.”

Ms Gates told jurors the prosecution’s case hinged on four points; the progression of Noelken’s offending, his careful calculation, the authenticity of his victim’s evidence and the unlikelihood of coincidence.

Noelken’s victims were unknown to each other.

Ms Gates told jurors his sexual urges were "becoming stronger as time went on."

He used social media to prey on the victims. Stock image
He used social media to prey on the victims. Stock image

Defending, Eloise Marshall QC argued Noelken had not inappropriately touched or raped a child, and social media dialogue showing him attempting to meet one victim was merely a “fantasy.”

She added Noelken’s attention deficit disorder and autism symptoms were “extremely complex”.

“It doesn’t mean Daniel is completely incapable, it goes deeper than that, in many ways Daniel Noelken is very capable.

“He can drive, he can do first aid, he has worked for a private first aid company and has been proactive in getting on with his life,” she continued.

Jurors unanimously convicted Noelken of raping a child under 13, two counts of sexual assault and attempting to arrange or facilitate a child sex offence.

He admitted before trial two counts of blackmail, voyeurism and 10 other non-contact sexual offences involving children, including inciting a child under 13 to engage in a sexual act.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, investigating officer DC Sue Kingsnorth, said: "We commend all of the victims who spoke to us and left the court in no doubt as to the severity of Noelken’s predatory offending.

"We have a team who are dedicated to investigating child abuse and ensuring that those who try to take advantage of children are found and brought to justice.

"If anyone has any concerns that a child might be at risk of abuse, we urge them to report it and get the help and protection that they deserve."

Noelken, of Whitefriars Meadow, will be subject to a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order on release.

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