Teenager sent ransom demand to family of missing autistic man from Chingford

Teenager sent ransom demand to family of missing autistic man

Rosemary and Jessica Larsh welcome prosecution against malicious youth

Rodney Larsh was hit by a train on December 27

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A teenager who sent ransom demands to the sisters of a missing autistic man killed on Christmas Eve has been jailed. 

The 17-year-old from Birmingham, who cannot be named, admitted sending malicious communications by text to the two women as they were desperately waiting for news of their brother.

Rodney Larsh, 20, lived in a care home in Chingford but was staying with his sister's Rosemary Nkestiah, 32, and Jessica Larsh, 25, at their home in Barking when he disappeared on Christmas Eve. 

The sisters launched an appeal on social networking sites and police began the search on Christmas Day.   

But Mr Larsh's body was discovered after he was hit by a fast-moving cargo train at Shenfield Station. 

The teenager began sending the texts before Mr Larsh's family were informed of his death.

The first message said: "If you want to see him (Rodney) again, you will have to pay up."

Further malicious texts were sent and when police linked Mr Larsh's disappearance with a body found in Shenfield, the final message said: "Well you're too late now, he's dead."  

Ms Nkestiah said: "He sent the first text at around 3am and Jessica woke up to it. We phoned the police straight away, it could have been real. 

"It made us think, someone might have him as no one had reported seeing him to the police."

Detectives traced the phone's registered address to the teenager's girlfriend. 

He was then arrested on April 30 and charged with harassment and sending malicious communications on May 12.

On August 1, the 17-year-old was sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates Court to a six-month detention and training order. 

Ms Nkestiah hopes the prosecution will send a strong message to others. 

She said: "You can't imagine the turmoil we were going through so for someone to be sentenced is some sort of justice.  

"Hopefully this will set an example and send out a clear message to others that it is not acceptable or tolerated. 

"I do welcome the result and we're quite happy he was pursued."

Detective Constable Desai, who led the investigation, said: "This is a horrible crime that attempted to take advantage of a family in their time of need.

"It was despicable and a very traumatic time for the girls who had been so unbelievably strong throughout. 
"Attacks and threats made via social media remain a serious matter for the police and we will not tolerate the misuse of these formats."

A date has still not been set for an inquest into Mr Larsh's death. 

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