Internet paedophile drove 200 miles to abuse Sunderland schoolboy

Richard Hall  leaving Newcastle Crown Court

Richard Hall leaving Newcastle Crown Court

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THIS internet paedophile travelled more than 200 miles from his home to abuse a Sunderland schoolboy he groomed online.

Over a period of just two days, predatory Richard Hall convinced the 14-year-old he was in love with him, and arranged a trip to Wearside from his home in the West Midlands.

They then went on trips together to Herrington Country Park and Penshaw Monument.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 30-year-old dad, who had a long-term female partner, then booked into the hotel where he ordered the boy to engage in a sex act during the two-day trip.

Hall ensured his victim’s silence by telling him if he spoke about what happened, his life would be “like an earthquake”.

During a five-day trial, Hall denied meeting a child after sexual grooming and two charges of sexual activity with a child.

But after just over two hours’ deliberation by the jury, he was found guilty of the grooming charge and one offence of sexual activity with a child.

He was found not guilty of one charge of sexual activity with a child.

Hall will be sentenced after the preparation of reports.

He was granted bail and ordered to sign the sex offenders register in the meantime.

Judge David Wood warned him: “I think it is right to warn you the likely outcome of this is a prison sentence.

“You should spend the next few weeks putting your affairs in order for that.”

Despite a mountain of evidence in the form of semi-naked photographs of them together, and records of explicit Skype messages they exchanged, Hall insisted during the trial nothing sexual went on and said he believed the boy was 17.

His denials meant the youngster had to give evidence, via videolink, at the hearing.

The boy told jurors he had met Hall in a chatroom and they soon started messaging over Skype and text.

He said Hall was fully aware of his true age.

The boy told jurors: “I can’t remember who asked who to meet, but we ended up meeting for two days.”

The court heard Hall took the youngster on trips during his visit.

The boy said he was forced to perform a sex act when they were at Hall’s hotel, and had worried about the consequences if he refused.

He told police during a video recorded interview, which was played in court: “I just felt I would get hurt by him.”

The court heard the boy had made repeated references to his age during the messages, which Hall had claimed he considered to be a “joke”.

Hall said he had no intention of having sex with the boy when he made the three-hour trip to see him.

Prosecutor Bob Spragg showed jurors copies of messages exchanged in the days leading up to the meeting, which ran into dozens of pages.

During the exchanges, Hall had told the boy “guys my own age do my head in” and said: “I’ve just fell for you and the age doesn’t come into it.”

In one message, Hall, of St. Giles Court, Rowley Regis, said: “I’ve just fallen in love with a gorgeous, sweet, kind, caring person who is younger than me, there is nothing else behind it.”

Within hours of them chatting, Hall had said he was “scared of losing” the boy, and within days said he loved him and was engaging in intimate and graphic sexual exchanges.