A Fortnite peadophile who used an online game to lure a schoolgirl into sex has been convicted – despite using his influence over the girl to stop her speaking out.
David Wood, 37, groomed his 14-year-old victim after initially befriending her while playing the popular online game on Xbox.
The underage girl, described by police as “vulnerable” was soon “infatuated” with Wood, and began visiting his Washington home after school.
In November, Wood was jailed for interfering in the police probe into the relationship and trying to convince the girl to make detectives drop the case.
After she told her mother about the abuse, Wood had been questioned by police and he sent a series of messages to his victim in a bid to get her to stay quiet.
He was jailed for 15 months last year after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice, but the potential grooming case was initially dropped after the victim refused to give a statement against him.
But Northumbria Police officers say they restarted efforts to prove the case.
Officers followed a technology trail to map out the pair’s relationship, which included locating and compiling thousands of mobile phone texts, online messages and geographical data.
This month Wood, of Waterloo Walk, Sulgrave, further pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photographs of a child at Newcastle Crown Court.
He has been remanded in custody and is now awaiting sentence.
Detective Constable Catherine Gibson, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is a disturbing case which saw an online predator earn the trust of an under-age schoolgirl after being introduced while playing a well-known video game via the internet.
“This relationship then developed into a sexual one, and as she became increasingly infatuated with the older man, the victim would regularly visit Wood at his home address after school.
“Last year, Wood was convicted after repeatedly sending the girl messages seeking to dissuade her from giving evidence during an initial trial for child grooming offences, which was subsequently dropped. His influence over her was both clear and significant.
“As a result, we were tasked with securing a compelling evidential case without the support of the victim herself – and I am now pleased that justice has been served as the extent of his harmful and unlawful actions in targeting a vulnerable young girl is recognised.
“There can be little doubt that Wood knowingly and willingly manipulated his victim for purely selfish gains, and when his illicit behaviour became apparent, he did everything possible in order to control the girl and escape punishment.
“This case outlines the Force’s fierce commitment to ensuring sexual predators who target vulnerable individuals online are rightfully brought to justice.
“We will continue to work hard to educate children, parents and teachers about the potential dangers of the internet, and we would always advise adults to be aware of what their children are doing online. If they see something suspicious, please report it to police.”