March 2009

‘Foster parents’ chained teenage girl up and used her as sex slave

A couple have been jailed for holding a 15-year-old girl captive at a caravan site and making her a teenage sex slave.

Scrap dealer David Cooper, 36, systematically abused the schoolgirl physically and sexually over four months after taking her to a travellers’ campsite with his girlfriend Kerry Hobson, 28.

At one stage Cooper had unlawful sex every day with the girl and Hobson made appointments for her to have a contraceptive injection.

The couple controlled what she wore, made her ask to go to the toilet and was tethered to the outside of the caravan for a day with a motorcycle chain when she refused to obey them.

The court heard the teenager, who cannot be named, tried to run away from the camp in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, after being chained outside in 7C temperatures in her pyjamas.

The bright schoolgirl was only rescued when police went to execute a search warrant for drugs, finding £3,000 worth of cannabis in Cooper’s caravan.

The pair wept in the dock at Hull Crown Court today as they heard their jail sentences – nine years for Cooper and three-and-a-half for Hobson.

Cooper, who has a criminal conviction for animal cruelty and two offences of child cruelty in 2003, befriended the girl’s mother in March 2007, offering to take care of her daughter along with Hobson because she was struggling to cope.

The girl initially fell under the couple’s spell after Cooper said her mother had abandoned her.

He and Hobson – who posed as his sister though she had two children by him – took the girl to live in a house nearby, but then moved to Woldgate Caravan Site without telling the mother.

Crown barrister Bernard Gateshill said the abuse started at the first address but continued at the camp – with Cooper soon claiming child allowance for the girl.

The girl told police she had been assaulted almost daily when 15 years old and after her 16th birthday.

‘They made her clean and controlled her right down to saying what she could do, when she could shower, how long she would be in the toilet, when she could smoke,’ said Mr Gateshill.

‘They beat her with a fist. Hobson hit her in the face, Cooper punched her about the body.’

One witness at the site said she seemed to be a slave. Police recovered a dictaphone and letter referring to the girl being tied up for sex sessions while Hobson had sex with another man, Mr Gateshill added.

Barrister Christopher Dunn, defending Cooper, said the offences were ‘appalling’ but the scrap dealer was thoroughly ashamed and added: ‘It is going to be hard for him in prison.’

Cooper pleaded guilty, sparing the victim the ordeal of seeing him tried, Mr Dunn added.

Hobson’s barrister Paul Genney said she had admitted everything except the extent of the cruelty, adding that she had been abused as a girl and brought up in care.

He said: ‘She was by no means the dominant person. She has herself been abused, debased and desensitized due to what has happened to her. She was subservient to him. The activity was not for her sexual gratification, but for his.’

Her two children by Cooper and one by another man have now been taken away and put up for adoption.

Judge Michael Mettyear today described Cooper as a serious risk to women and told him: ‘She turned to you for help and what she proceeded to get was misery and abuse. She may never get over it. You treated her like your own personal sex toy.’

Cooper – who used three other names – pleaded guilty to eight specimen charges of sexual activity with a child under the ages of sixteen, and one charge of child cruelty.

He was given a Sexual Offenders’ Prevention Order for 10 years.

Jobless Hobson pleaded guilty to child cruelty.

They both admitted charges of possessing cannabis.

The teenage victim now lives in fear that Cooper will hunt her down, her mother said after the close of the trial.

Calling Cooper ‘every parent’s worst nightmare’ – and comparing him to Austrian cellar monster Josef Fritzl – she today hit out at the brevity of the sentences.

‘He will be free in four-and-a-half years and walking the streets again. My daughter is terrified he will come back and find her. He is a cunning, evil man.’