Sunderland man jailed for almost seven years for sex offences against schoolgirl he met playing Xbox game Fortnite

A paedophile who groomed a schoolgirl he befriended through the video game Fortnite has been jailed for almost seven years.

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 6:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 6:07 pm
David Wood, 37, groomed his victim after initially befriending her while playing the popular online game Fortnite on Xbox.

David Wood, 37, was jailed for 15 months in November 2019 for perverting the course of justice for derailing a police investigation into their relationship.

However, Wood has now been jailed for almost seven years after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photographs of a child.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the schoolgirl began playing an online game on an Xbox with Wood and began a relationship.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

David Lamb, prosecuting, said the girl informed her friends about the relationship and they met the defendant and saw the pair kissing and the victim sitting on his lap.

Mr Lamb said the friends had inspected Wood's mobile phone and saw an illicit video of the victim and defendant, although the video was not recovered by the police.

Mr Lamb said: "One of the school friends confirmed to the victim's mother that she was in a relationship with an older man called David.

"As a result of that disclosure she confronted her daughter and she confirmed it was true."

The girl's mother contacted the police who came to their home and seized her mobile phone.

Mr Lamb said: "It was clear that she did not wish to provide an account."

Later that afternoon in May 2019, they arrested Wood and seized his mobile phone as well.

The court heard that on his mobile phone, 572 images and video telephone calls involving the victim and the defendant were found.

Mr Lamb told the court: "Text messages sent by the defendant and the victim between March and May 2019 support the nature of the sexual relationship between them. 44 exchanged on 3rd May 2019, 28 of them sent by the defendant.

"Messages instructing her to set up a false Facebook account so that the two could communicate."

Mr Lamb said Wood had encouraged the victim to keep quiet about their illegal relationship and told her 'tell your mum you want to drop the charges' and asking her who she would rather choose; 'him or her mother'.

He read the girl's mother's statement to the court in which she said: "She was still a child, my child and David Wood stole her childhood after grooming her online.”

Lee Fish, defending, told the court: "He has had difficulties with alcohol.

"He has been engaging with the DART team in prison to confront those difficulties."

Mr Fish said there was reference to a "turbulent upbringing" in the pre-sentence report.

Mr Recorder Alistair MacDonald QC said: "There is a complete lack of understanding by you of the effect of your behaviour on the victim.

"You wreaked untold harm to this family by this offending."

Mr Recorder MacDonald QC sentenced Wood, formerly of Dunstanburgh Close, Oxclose, Washington, to six years and eight months in prison with an extended licence period of three years.