A mother has accused Fortnite paedophile David Wood of stealing her daughter’s childhood following his conviction.
Washington man Wood, 37, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photographs after grooming the schoolgirl while playing the game on Xbox.
After befriending the 14-year-old girl, the two began a relationship and she would regularly visit him.
Wood, of Waterloo Walk, Sulgrave, was convicted at Newcastle Crown Court last month after the girl admitted to the relationship and police discovered thousands of texts and online messages.
Reacting to the conviction, the girl’s mum said: “It makes me sick to my stomach what he has done. 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. The control that he had over her, sending her texts urging her to keep quiet, meant she would not talk to police.
“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.”
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 was 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 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.
But after restarting the case, officers managed to locate thousands of mobile phone texts, online messages and geographical data, which led to his conviction and he now faces a long stint in prison.
The girl’s mother added: “I hope this case helps make other parents aware of the potential dangers of the internet – this could so easily happen to other children who come into contact with manipulative adults online.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Northumbria Police for their investigation, especially to detective constable Catherine Gibson who has been a huge support to me throughout the investigation.
“I now hope my daughter can start to live her life again with Wood behind bars, but I know the damage he has caused her and our family is irreparable. Life will never be the same again.”
Detective constable Catherine Gibson, who led the investigation, praised the girl’s mother and said the case highlighted the need for all parents to be aware of the potential dangers of the internet.
“This was a difficult and complex investigation that has lasted more than a year and involved a vulnerable victim who was seduced and manipulated by a much older man,” she said.
“As a result, we had to rely on our investigative skills without the support of the victim to ensure Wood had his day in court – and that involved following a huge technology trail to map out their relationship, from reading thousands of texts and emails to studying geographical data.
“The victim’s mother provided us with key evidence that she discovered after checking devices that her daughter had access to, and this proved instrumental in securing the convictions against Wood. I’d like to thank her for her cooperation and assistance throughout.
“There is little doubt that Wood is a manipulative and calculated man who used this young, impressionable girl for purely selfish gains. 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.
“As a Force, we have specialist teams who work hard to educate children, parents and teachers about the potential dangers of the internet and how best to ensure young people are safeguarded. That work has never been more important.”