September 2007

Web predator jailed over sex assaults

A schoolgirl victim of three ‘disgusting’ sexual assaults by a man she met on the internet tried to commit suicide, a court was told.

Robert Bate approached the girl, then just 14, over the internet then met her in carparks, indecently assaulting her on three occasions.

Mark Roberts, prosecuting, told Chester Crown Court that Bate took advantage of the girl, performing sexual acts with her and in front of her which left her ‘embarrassed and scared’.

The victim’s mother found out and even texted Bate, of Lancers Croft, Great Sutton, to call the relationship off.

The meetings left the girl psychologically affected and she tried to commit suicide.

But Paul Murphy, defending, said: ‘There were sexually graphic exchanges on both sides. This was the basis of his phenomenally bad error of judgment.’

In February and March 2002, Bate, then aged 26, met the girl on the internet.

He knew her age but they met in Safeway carpark, Ellesmere Port before driving to a layby in Frodsham where he got her to perform sexual acts on him.

Mr Roberts said: ‘She made an excuse and he dropped her off. They met again a week later and she thought something sexual was going to happen.’

But after the girl got a boyfriend and her mother read her diary, she reduced contact and he became abusive.

Mr Roberts added: ‘In June 2006 he phoned her to say he had been arrested and he said something about his credit card details being on child porn websites.’

The court heard that although Bate had no previous convictions, the assault was discovered because of a caution for 39 indecent images of children on his computer.

Bate pleaded guilty on the basis that it was a chance meeting and not an age-specific computer search, and that all acts were done with her consent. She also knew his age.

On Wednesday Bate’s girlfriend watched as he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for each offence, to run concurrently. He cannot use chatrooms, is on the sex offenders register for 10 years and is disqualified from working with children for life.

Recorder of Chester Judge Elgan Edwards added: ‘This is every parents’ nightmare. He knew this girl was 14 and indecently assaulted her in quite disgusting ways.’