A man has been sentenced to serve a total of 20 years in prison after being found guilty of abduction and sexual offences against a young girl he met online.
Donato Rizzi, 66, has been on trial at Nottingham Crown Court and on Friday 21 October was found guilty of 13 offences.
In January this year, officers were contacted by a mother to say her 12-year-old daughter had returned home after leaving the house and disclosed she had been picked up by a man she had met online and went to his house.
Her mother provided officers with screenshots of messages her daughter had exchanged with him on a mobile phone.
The girl was interviewed by specially trained officers where she disclosed that she met with the man on a number of occasions over the previous weeks and sexual activity had taken place between them at his address.
A full and thorough investigation was commenced by detectives from the child sexual exploitation team, Rizzi was identified and promptly arrested.
With the evidence already gained, he was charged with two counts of rape of a girl under the age of 13 and one offence under the Child Abduction Act, namely taking a child so as to keep her from a person having lawful control and held on remand in prison.
As the investigation continued, detectives uncovered further offences against the girl and Rizzi was charged with additional offences.
Detective Constable Sue Cockerill, who investigated the case, said that officers uncovered messages exchanged between the two where Rizzi, who is known locally as Dean or Deano, acknowledged the girl was under 16 and how he would cover his tracks if he got caught.
She said: “Rizzi claimed that he didn’t know that the girl was under 18, a claim which is completely absurd. Anyone who takes one look at this young girl, can see she is that – a young girl who doesn’t even look like she could be 16 years old let alone 18.
“She told him her real age and this man simply chose to ignore it, sexually exploiting her and taking advantage of her vulnerabilities for his own perverted gratification.
“This young girl and her family have been through a terrible ordeal. She has exceptionally brave in recalling her interactions with Rizzi and I hope now, finally, she and her family can start to rebuild their lives and move past what has happened.
“I would like to thank Claire Fraser KC and Sarah Holland from the Crown Prosecution Service for their significant hard work and commitment in bringing this case before the court and securing a conviction against Rizzi.”
DC Cockerill added: “We are continuing our investigation into Rizzi which includes the examination of devices recovered from his home. We suspect that he may have been in contact with other girls and could well have committed sexual offences against others.
“I would therefore urge anyone who may have been a victim to please contact us. We have officers who are trained to speak sensitively to children who may have been victim of similar offences.”
Detective Inspector Gary Bee, who leads the force’s exploitation team, said: “This case highlights the dangers that can lurk online and the sophisticated methods that sexual perpetrators use to exploit young and vulnerable children.
“It’s a timely reminder to all parents to ensure that they have safeguards in place at home to understand their children’s use of the internet and social media.
“Rizzi’s level of offending against such a young child is particularly concerning and I would urge anybody with any concerns around historic or ongoing abuse by him to contact Leicestershire Police, your concerns will be dealt with confidentially and by specially trained officers.”
Rizzi has been convicted of and sentenced for the following offences between 31 December 2021 and 27 January 2022:
The jury found him unanimously guilty of these nine offences:
- Two counts under the Child Abduction Act namely taking a child so as to keep her from a person having lawful control
- One count of taking indecent photographs of a child
- One count of taking an indecent image of a child
- One count of assault of a child under 13 by penetration
- Four counts of rape of a child under 13
And returned a majority verdict on these counts:
- Two counts of One count of assault of a child under 13 by penetration
- Two counts of rape of a child under 13
The below offences which he was charged with were ordered to lie on file:
- One count of possession of indecent photographs of a child namely one image of category A
- One count of possession of indecent photographs of a child namely two images of category C
He will also be on the Sex Offenders Register for life.