A CONTROLLING woman who ‘took advantage’ of a ‘vulnerable’ underage girl has been jailed for five years.

Stephanie Shorney, aged 35, committed multiple sexual offences in West Dorset between January 28, 2017 and January 27, 2019.

The girl, who was aged between 14 and 15 during this time, cannot be named for legal reasons.

Shorney, of Hill View, Maiden Newton, was found guilty of six accounts of sexual offences following a trial that spanned over two weeks at Winchester Crown Court.

The court heard their relationship began after Shorney, who had previously lived in the same area as the victim’s family, moved house in 2017.

The pair met multiple times in summer 2017 and the girl was invited to family trips and frequently visited her home. Shorney previously told the court she ‘took her under my wing’ and treated her like the ‘daughter she never had’ and let her sleep over.

The victim, who often slept at Shorney's home, was seen in the same bed as Shorney by one of Shorney's children in September 2017. Despite being banned from the home by Shorney's husband, the pair continued to see each other in secret.

The court heard details of their sexual relationship, including how the victim lost her virginity to Shorney and how she demanded the victim visited her address for ‘birthday sex’ on August 28, 2018.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the victim said Shorney was initially a woman ‘to look up to’ and made her feel ‘less different’ during a time she was conflicted about her sexuality.

But she felt pressured to remain in the relationship due to Shorney’s comments that she would end her life and would reveal to everyone their relationship.

She said: “She made me feel comfortable in myself and this soon changed. Very quickly she became intense and controlling.

“I felt scared and isolated.”

Shorney also sent a number of ‘highly unpleasant’ messages to the victim in January 2020, stating ‘I will hurt you’ and noted she would ‘wait outside her home’.

Scared by the threatening messages, the ‘broken’ victim spoke to her parents about the relationship and the victim’s mother contacted the police.

Shorney, who was arrested in her car near the victim's address, confirmed she had a sexual relationship with the girl after she turned 16, but denied there was any sexual touching before her 16th birthday.

Recorder Michael Bowes described her as ‘predatory and controlling’ and sought to falsely portray the victim as a liar during the trial.

Mitigating, David Freeland, noted that Shorney was a woman previously of good character and how Shorney only sought to care for the victim.

He added that time away from home due to imprisonment could have ‘significant impact’ on her three children.

Recorder Bowes was also sent 16 letters from family and friends who gave character references and noted her work in the community.

Sentencing, Recorder Bowes, believed Shorney’s claim that she treated the victim ‘like an eldest daughter’ was partly true, but she ‘took advantage’ of her 'low emotional state'.

He said: “You told her you had feelings for her and she wasn’t aware of her sexuality and the sexual relationship. It began with kissing and all of the time you must have known it was illegal and very wrong.

“She was in a low state and you completely took advantage of her.

“You were aware that she was 14 and aware anything between you was illegal but you said you weren’t bothered.”

Recorder Bowes said Shorney has ‘expressed no remorse for this whatsoever’ and noted that she entered the relationship with an underage girl ‘for your own sexual gratification’.

He added: “You sought the relationship with her when you were 14 and she was very vulnerable.

“You were both predatory and controlling towards her. You knew her age.

“You were 18 years older and you took advantage of her when she was in a vulnerable state.

“You sought to shift the responsibility to her and that she had pursued the relationship when it was in fact yourself who pursued the relationship.”

Shorney was sentenced to five years in prison but will serve two-and-a-half years before being released on licence.

She was also placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely, issued a sexual harm prevention order for 15 years and pay a £170 victim surcharge.