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Merseyside woman who pretended to be a girl who disappeared 38 years ago is sentenced

|News, Cyber / online crime

A Merseyside woman who pretended to be a girl who disappeared in Germany as a two year old, 38 years ago, has been sentenced.

Heidi Robinson, 40, from Moreton on the Wirral, claimed to be Katrice Lee, who went missing in a supermarket in Germany in 1981. Katrice has never been found.

Katrice’s sister Natasha Walker has described how the search for her sister and what happened to her has dominated her life ever since.

In 2017, Military Police in Germany said they were going to dig in an area where they suspected they may find Katrice’s remains and the story hit the headlines again.

In August 2018, Natasha received a 'friend request' on Facebook from a profile called “Katrice Lee”.  The profile contained photos of Natasha and her father and also of Katrice.

Natasha contacted the profile via private message and asked for it to be taken down. It was not.

Natasha found there were links on this profile to other social media sites in the name of Heidi Robinson. The username in the Facebook messenger chat box showed "heidirobinson77".  She had put photos of herself next to photos of Katrice with the question, "Is this not me?"

Natasha contacted the Military Police who conducted the investigation into Katrice's disappearance.  They took a DNA sample from Heidi Robinson which confirmed she was not Katrice.

Despite this, Robinson continued to message Natasha in November 2018, claiming to be Katrice and saying she now thought the DNA result was a cover up and that Natasha herself should be investigated.

Robinson was arrested by officers from Merseyside Police on 27 February 2019. On 11 October 2019, she pleaded guilty to an offence under the Malicious Communications Act, of sending, on 13 November 2018, a grossly offensive electronic communication.

Today (30 10 2019) at Birkenhead Magistrates’ Court, she was given an 18-week jail term, suspended for two years. She is required to undergo 12 months of support for her mental health issues and has a 40-hour rehabilitation activity requirement. A restraining order was imposed that states she must  not contact Natasha Walker or her father and she is subject to a 6pm to 6am curfew for six months. There is also an unlimited restriction on her posting any item on social media about Natasha, her father or Katrice Lee.

Barrister Andrew Downie, for Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Heidi Robinson's claims to be Natasha's missing sister were grossly offensive and have caused the family great distress.

 “Heidi continued with her bizarre claims even after a DNA test had categorially proven that she could not be Katrice and Robinson refused to take down the Facebook profile and continued to message Katrice’s sister.

“It may never be clearly established why she embarked on this extremely odd and upsetting deceit but she has committed a crime and is now facing the consequences.

“In a Victim Personal Statement, Natasha said she wanted Heidi Robinson to be made an example of, so that others might think twice before putting others through the hell that her family have been through. This family have been through so much - this deceit on top of everything else is awful and Heidi Robinson should be ashamed of herself.”

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