A man has been jailed for robbing vulnerable sex workers and making unwanted sexual advances towards three young girls.

Luke Smerdon, 35, from Ivybridge, appeared at Plymouth Crown Court for sentence on Thursday, June 20, after pleading guilty to robbery and attempted robbery, as well as six malicious communication charges and causing or inciting a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.

Smerdon was sentenced to more than six years in prison by Judge Robert Linford and made subject of a sexual harm prevention order. Restraining orders were also put in place.

The court heard that between March and September 2022, Smerdon made violent threats by hand-written letter or on Facebook using a fake account to a number of individuals.

During one of the malicious exchanges Smerdon made reference to Jack the Ripper and said to a woman that she would end up looking like one of his victims.

On July 27 last year, Smerdon engaged with a sex worker in Plymouth for her services and after the encounter Smerdon grabbed her, placed his hands over her mouth and stole some of the money he had given her.

As part of the investigation, police spoke to another sex worker who was present that night and who described how two weeks earlier, Smerdon robbed her after threatening to stab her if she did not give him money.

The final incident happened on September 11, just outside of Plymouth Pavilions, when a 15-year-old girl and two 16-year-old girls were approached by Smerdon and asked if they would have sex with him in exchange for £2,000 and a set of AirPods, which the group rejected.

DC Adam Fitzpatrick said: “Luke Smerdon is a dangerous individual who has made multiple attempts to target women in Devon and Cornwall. The sentence he received today at court is the result of three cases and multiple officers hard work and dedication to bring him to justice.”

Victims of crime can visit victimcare-dc.org to access support services and information, or call Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111 or Devon and Cornwall Police’s Victim Care Unit on 01392 475900.