Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile jailed for hotel sex with girl

A paedophile who travelled from England to have sex with a 13-year-old Belfast schoolgirl was told yesterday he will only be freed from jail when the authorities deem it is safe to do so.

Belfast Recorder judge Tom Burgess told Gareth Freeman (31) that he will serve a minimum term of at least four years after which it would have to be determined when and if he should be released.

Freeman, from Regent Street in Mirfield, west Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to meeting a child after sexual grooming, six counts of sexual activity with a child, a further six of possessing indecent images of a child and two of taking an indecent image of a child.

The charges, which are all dated between October 30 and November 1 last year, arise after Freeman befriended the schoolgirl on a |social network site before flying to Belfast where he had sex with her in a hotel.

During October 2009, just prior to his visit to Belfast, Freeman had bombarded the girl with nearly 4,000 text messages, including almost 100 media messages.

Judge Burgess said that Freeman, who was also put on the sex offenders' register for life, presented as a serious risk to the public “the depth of which is not fully understood at present”.

“This was,” he added, “a classic case of grooming” in which Freeman “from the outset knew what he was doing was wrong”. Freeman had “fuelled her infatuation” with him, and while he had claimed he wanted only to help her, had betrayed that trust for his “own sexual gratification”.

Belfast Telegraph

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