Kayleigh Haywood began speaking to Luke Harlow, a man she had never met, on 31 October 2015.
Over the course of two weeks they exchanged 2643 messages. Harlow told the 15-year-old all the things many teenage girls want to hear. He told her she was beautiful, how much he cared for her and that she was special.
Harlow was grooming Kayleigh, along with two other young girls he had also been speaking to. It was Kayleigh that finally agreed to his request to spend the night with him on Friday 13 November 2015.
The following day she was introduced to Harlow’s neighbour, Stephen Beadman. In the early hours of Sunday 15 November, having been held against her will by the pair, Kayleigh was raped and murdered by Beadman.
Beadman was sentenced in July 2016 to a minimum of 35 years in prison for Kayleigh’s murder.
Harlow was given 12 years for grooming and false imprisonment.
The film and its purpose
With the support of Kayleigh’s family, Leicestershire Police made a film showing parts of the last 14 days of her life.
Kayleigh’s Love Story is a warning to young people, both girls and boys, about online grooming and the dangers of speaking to strangers or ‘friends’ you only know online.
The film highlights how quick and easy it can be for children to be groomed online without them even knowing it is happening. Its purpose is to protect children and stop another family losing a child in this way.
Facts about the film
The film was made by Affixxius Films in Loughborough and was shot in various locations across Leicestershire and in Nottingham.
If carries a 15 certificate, meaning for audiences who have no prior knowledge of what they are about to watch it would be suitable for people aged 15 and above.
The film was translated into seven other languages - Gujarati, Hindi, Polish, Punjabi, Urdu, Welsh and British Sign Language. These are available to view on YouTube.
Since it was published online, the film has won eight national awards and been preserved by the national film and television archive at the British Film Industry.
The film was shown in July 2016 to the communities in Measham, Ibstock and Coalville and to children aged 14 and over in six schools in North West Leicestershire, with support from their parents, teachers, police officers and social workers.
Between September and December 2016 every child aged 11 across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland had the opportunity to see the film in their school, delivered by dedicated safeguarding staff within the force.
At the same time the film was shared with every other police force in the country for them to show to schoolchildren in their own areas.
Since its public launch online in January 2017 the film has been viewed by an estimated 36 million people.
Kayleigh’s legacy and the impact of the film
It was important to Kayleigh’s family that her memory lives on and the brutal murder of the 15-year-old never happens again.
Her story is a warning to other children of the dangers of speaking to strangers online and how quick online grooming can happen.
The film has proven to be Leicestershire Police’s most successful ever campaign. It has been seen by thousands of children in schools across the country and millions of people worldwide online.
It was has won multiple awards and most importantly has encouraged many children to come forward and speak up about abuse and unwanted online communication.
Kayleigh’s legacy ensures the safeguarding of children from all forms of exploitation remains in the public domain.
What can I do?
Children and young people need to understand the importance of staying safe online.
Make online safety an ongoing conversation. Talk regularly to them about how they use technology and find out what they enjoy doing online. If you are not sure where to begin, have a look for conversation starters. There are also tools available to help manage devices used by children, such as parental controls which can help protect a child from seeing inappropriate content online.