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A 15-year-old schoolgirl murdered after being groomed online tried to flee her attacker while naked from the waist down but was tackled by him in the street and later killed.Landscape gardener Stephen Beadman, 29, forced terrified Kayleigh Haywood to walk more than a mile through woods and fields on a freezing night while wearing no shoes or clothing on her bottom half – then killed her on farmland and left her body in undergrowth in Ibstock, Leicestershire.
The tragic teenager had spent the hours before her death held ‘against her will’ and was ‘sexually touched’ at the home of Beadman’s friend and neighbour Luke Harlow, 27, after he enticed her there following two weeks of messaging on the social media site, jurors were told.
But when she tried to flee, Beadman chased and tackled Kayleigh to the ground before ‘taking her into the night’, where he raped and murdered her on remote farmland next to a stream.
The court heard how she had tried to fight him off by scratching his face and hitting him with a brick. But he retaliated by throwing the brick in her face and hitting her over the head with it, killing her.
Her parents reported her missing to the police after she failed to make contact the following day and a desperate search involving hundreds of police officers and members of the public was launched.
However, it came to a tragic end with the grim discovery of her remains in undergrowth near Sence Valley Forest Park. She had suffered massive head and facial injuries and had to be identified by her dental records.
Nottingham Crown Court heard Kayleigh, who lived in the village of Measham, around five miles from where her body was found, was the ‘last in a line’ of young girls groomed online by Harlow.
After contacting her on Facebook using the name Luke ‘Fun Times’ Harlow and plying her with compliments and flirtatious messages which gradually became more explicit, he persuaded the teenager to lie to her parents and stay at his home on the night of Friday, November 13.
Kayleigh was last seen alive by her father Martin Whitby, 57, that evening when he dropped her off outside Ibstock Community College – thinking she was spending the night at her best friend’s house.
But she instead went to Harlow’s flat in the village, and stayed there until around 3am the following Sunday when she attempted to flee.
On the Saturday morning, she had texted her parents asking if she could stay another night. But at around 10pm that night Harlow’s neighbours heard loud banging and screams coming from his home.
Hours later Kayleigh was seen sprinting out of his home half-naked into the street pursued by Beadman.
A neighbour saw Beadman wrestle Kayleigh to the ground but did not act after mistakenly believing he was a police officer making an arrest.