Ashleigh Hall was a regular teenage girl, her mobile phone and the internet featured in her everyday life, she was well liked by her friends and had around 400 friends on Facebook, all of whom she knew.
However, in September Ashleigh added a good looking bare-chested 17-year-old boy going by the name of Peter Cartwright. Ashleigh was one of 173 people to accept him as a friend on the networking site, almost all of whom were young women.
After speaking to ‘Cartwright’ on Facebook she added him on other popular social networking sites and began to chat online with him regularly on MSN and tagged.com.
One month later ‘Cartwright’ enticed Ashleigh to meet him in person; she packed her bags and told her mother she was “going to stay at her friends”.
‘Cartwright’ then text Ashleigh to tell her that his dad was going to pick her up and bring her to his house, this was followed up by a text from the ‘father’ from another phone.
Within hours she had been raped and killed with her body being dumped in a field.
Peter Cartwright and his father never existed; the Facebook profile was a fake created by convicted sex offender Peter Chapman.
Peter Chapman, 33, spent months creating fake profiles on various social networking sites hoping to eventually lure a victim like Ashleigh. He used the internet to make contact with 2,981 girls aged between 13 and 31. They posted 854 comments on his Facebook page.
Days before he murdered Ashleigh, Chapman tried to tempt a girl of 15 into his car in Hartlepool after using the same Facebook trick. Fortunately she ran away as soon as she saw his car in a lay-by.
Chapman was arrested and sentenced to 35 years by Judge Peter Fox who said Chapman was a significant danger to young woman.
Ashleigh Hall’s one mistake in adding a stranger cost her her life and cost a mother a beloved daughter and ‘best friend’.
Ashleigh’s friends have launched a campaign highlighting the potential dangers of the internet by creating a set of rules in the hope that they will keep young people safe in the future.
1. If ever meeting up with somebody who is alien to you or your friends make sure that you meet them in a group of at least 2-3 and in a public, well lit and populated area.
2. Inform somebody of where you are going and what time you should be back, also the name of who you are meeting.
3. Don’t accept anyone on social networking sites that you don’t know.
4. Remember never to trust anyone who you have met online, you don’t know what they are capable of doing.
5. Never tell a stranger on network sites or chat rooms anything personal about yourself, e.g. where you live, date of birth etc.
6. Never meet anyone you don’t know, simple as!