Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sex Offender used FaceBook to find his murder victim

The 32-year-old man has been arrested after he led detectives to a field where they found the body of Ashleigh Hall, 17, in Sedgefield, County Durham, after allegedly telling them “I killed a girl”.
Ashleigh had left her home in Darlington where she lived with her four sisters on Sunday night, telling her mother she was staying with a friend.
But the childcare student had secretly arranged to meet a man she had been chatting with on Facebook near a Little Chef restaurant on a road known locally as “lover’s lane”. She had told friends it was a 16-year-old boy.
On Monday lunchtime when Ashleigh had not returned home, her mother, Andrea Hall, 39, became concerned and frantically called her daughter’s mobile phone to find out where she was, but could not get a reply.

The 32-year-old suspect was picked up by patrol officers later on Monday afternoon after automatic numberplate recognition cameras had detected he was driving without insurance.
While he was waiting in a police cell in Middlesbrough, he asked to speak to a detective, saying “I have killed a girl”, sources said.

It is believed that when the teenager got into the suspect’s car, a dark blue Ford Mondeo, he used gaffer tape to gag her.

He has told police that she “accidentally” suffocated, and he then dumped the body, according to sources.
He led police to where her body was dumped, close to the junction of the A689 and A177 roads.
Police chiefs and child safety experts have issued a warning about the dangers of using the internet to date strangers as it emerged the victim had met the suspect on a social networking website.
Danny Fisher, 17, a student from Darlington, a friend of Ashleigh, said: “I heard that she had been talking with a man on Facebook. He told her was 16, but obviously it looks like that was a lie.”

At a press conference, Det Chief Insp Paul Harker said it was a “very tragic case” and added: “My message in terms of meeting people from the internet is please do not do it unless you are absolutely certain it is safe.”

He urged parents to monitor their children’s use of the web.

“Speak to them about it, speak to their friends, let them know the dangers of the internet,” he said.LMK ends
The message was backed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which receives 500 reports a week about suspect behaviour and advises parents to stay in touch with how their children use the net.

A spokesman said: “We realise this may be difficult, because teenagers may resent their privacy being disturbed, but it is not a question of intruding, it is just important to know where they are going online.”
An NSPCC spokesman urged children to speak out if they felt concerns about someone’s behaviour online.

“It is not a good idea to arrange to meet people that you have chatted to online, as you can never be sure they are who they say they are,” he said.

The victim’s family was too upset to talk last night at their home in Warwick Square, Darlington, but friends of the teenager, who was studying at Darlington College, paid tribute to a “bubbly” girl who was “always smiling”.

James Hyde, 18, from Darlington, said: “She has four little sisters and she was always looking out for them. She loved them.”

Elisha Currie, 17, a nursery assistant from Darlington, said: “I did a work placement with Ashleigh at a nursery for about four months over the summer.

“She was a really bubbly person. She was always really helpful and great with the children.

“All the girls that knew her at the nursery said she was a great girl and had a great personality.”
Officers said that the suspect originally gave two different names for himself, but they have now established his identity and that he has a conviction for a sex offence. Officers are tracing his previous crimes and believe that he may have flouted the rules of the sex offenders’ register by moving address without notifying police.
Ashleigh’s body was fully clothed when it was found and there was no indication the girl had been sexually assaulted, police confirmed.

Scott Wright, 28, who lives on the lane where it the body was discovered said that he saw police inspecting a ditch while a man was apparently handcuffed in the back of a car.

“He had fair hair which was shaved and he was staring at the spot where the body was,” he said.

Peter Martin, a farmer whose land it was on, said: “This is a deserted road most of the time but we do get people using it as a lovers’ lane because it is so quiet.”

A post-mortem was being carried out on Ashleigh’s body yesterday.

"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"
.........Sarah Tofte

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