Mum of schoolgirl groomed by predator she met while playing Fortnite says life will 'never be the same again'
The mum of a schoolgirl groomed by a predator she met online has spoken of her relief following his conviction.
David Wood, 37, groomed a 14-year-old girl he befriended while playing video game Fortnite on Xbox.
Officers’ initial attempts to bring him to justice were thwarted in November 2019 as the case was dropped in court due to insufficient evidence. The victim was also unwilling to support a prosecution.
Police unearthed a series of messages that Wood, of Waterloo Walk, Sulgrave, Washington, sent to the girl urging her to keep quiet about their relationship.
Two months on, Wood admitted two counts of sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photographs of a child at a Newcastle Crown Court hearing in January and is due to be sentenced at a later date.
The victim’s mum has praised the investigators who worked on pulling together the second criminal case, which led to the further charges.
“It makes me sick to my stomach what he has done,” she said.
“My daughter is still a child – my child – and this man has stolen her childhood after grooming her online.
“She should have been out playing with friends, having a laugh and a joke, when in fact she has been preyed on by a man who is more than 20 years older than her.
“He manipulated my daughter - it is disgusting. She claimed she was head over heels in love with him but that is what he made her feel.”
She added: “I’m now incredibly relieved and thankful that David Wood is behind bars, and would like to thank police who have worked incredibly hard – against the odds – to ensure he has been rightly convicted of his crimes.
“He deserves to be in jail for a long time for the unforgivable things he has done to my daughter and I can sleep easier knowing he is locked up, unable to prey on other vulnerable girls and cause such pain and heartache to their families.”
It was months later that the girl confessed to her mum she had been involved with a sexual relationship with an older man, prompting officers to question Wood.
The girl’s mother added that the offences had caused “irreparable” damage to her family – and that life would “never be the same” again.
Detective Constable Catherine Gibson, who led the investigation, said the case highlighted the need for all parents to be aware of the potential dangers of the internet.
“There is little doubt that Wood is a manipulative and calculated man who used this young, impressionable girl for purely selfish gains, she said.
“When his illicit behaviour started to come to light, he then did everything in his power to try to control his victim and escape punishment.”