July 2012

Teenager throttled and battered girl, 10


A teenage boy who throttled a 10-year-old girl before repeatedly beating her around the head so viciously he could have killed her has been detained indefinitely.

Sixteen-year-old Connor Hodgson said he had no idea why he attacked the youngster, who was playing in the street.

His victim was found unconscious and covered in blood after a major police search in Stockton, Teesside.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been left with serious physical and psychological problems, including post traumatic stress disorder, Teesside Crown Court heard.

A judge told Hodgson he represents such a significant risk to the public, he could not say if he would ever be released from custody.

Hodgson, who was in foster care, talked to the girl as she played outside, Tony Hawks, prosecuting, told the court.

He offered to help her find her bike and they went to a street, away from her home, where the attack is believed to have taken place.

Hodgson wrapped his hands round her neck and applied “severe force”, Mr Hawks said.

“She said that the defendant had put his arm around her neck and said he’d prevented her from breathing.

“She said that at that point she had gone to sleep, as she put it, and when she woke up the defendant wasn’t there.”

The victim’s mother reported her missing and police started a search, helped by the public.

She was found two hours “confused, unsteady on her feet and covered in blood”.

A doctor who examined her said she had multiple cuts and bruises due to “severe, blunt force” and concluded: “In my opinion, these injuries represent at least seven blows to the back of the head, four to the face, with pressure to the neck.

“The head injuries and pressure to the neck were potentially fatal.”

Hodgson was arrested after CCTV showed him with the youngster.

He pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent at a previous court hearing. He said he had no memory of the attack

He denied a charge of kidnap, which was accepted by the Crown and a not guilty verdict was recorded.

Duncan McReddie, representing Hodgson, said the defendant deserved credit for a guilty plea.

“He does find it very difficult to accept he was the person who conducted the offence in this way,” he added.

Due to the severity of the case, Judge Peter Fox QC overturned a court order that would have banned Hodgson from being identified by the media because of his age.

He said: “Your dreadful attack on her caused the most serious injuries in a number of ways, some of which were life-threatening.

“Not only was she vulnerable by being so much younger and so much weaker than you, but for the most part was helpless by virtue of you rendering her unconscious by strangling her.

“You now stand convicted of a type of criminal offence and of such seriousness that I must consider whether I’m of the opinion there’s a significant risk of serious harm in your case in the future.

“I do so conclude.”

Judge Fox said he had “no alternative” but to pass an indeterminate sentence with a minimum period of five years for public protection.

“He will have to prove he is no longer a threat before he can be released,” the judge added.

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector Anne-Marie Salwey, senior investigating officer at Stockton CID, said she was pleased with the verdict but added that it cannot reverse the damage the defendant has caused.

“The victim fears that he is still going to come back and kill her,” she said.

“Hodgson has proven to be very dangerous – the public protection aspect of the sentence reflects that.”

The victim’s mother, who is now on medication, described her daughter as a clever, beautiful girl who knew about the danger of speaking to strangers.

She has made a good recovery but has “ongoing physical and mental problems” including extreme phobias.

April 2013

Anger over council decision not to release report into teenager who attacked young schoolgirl

A COUNCIL has refused to reveal the findings of a review into the care of a teenager who left a ten-year-old girl for dead on a river bank – because it would cause the attacker “further distress”.

Connor Hodgson’s assault on the schoolgirl caused such outrage in her community that police were forced to appeal for calm in the days following the incident.

She was beaten repeatedly by the 16-year-old who lured her away from her friends.

People on the close-knit estate in Stockton demanded to know why such a dangerous youth had been allowed to live in council care in their midst and following Hodgson’s jailing, Stockton Borough Council carried out a review.

However the anticipated publication of the report has been halted because officials are concerned about the effect it might have on the teenager.

He was jailed indefinitely for the attack last July, after he admitted causing the girl, now 11, grievous bodily harm with intent.

Teesside Crown Court was told he throttled her and beat her around the head so viciously he could have killed her.

He could give no explanation for why he attacked the youngster in April last year.

The court heard Hodgson, who was in foster care, had a history of petty crime and had shown worrying sexual behaviour as a result of abuse he himself had suffered as a child.

James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, criticised the council and said their involvement in Hodgson’s care should be released.

He said: “Given that if there are any details which rightly should be kept private and confidential they could be redacted as is allowed under the Freedom of Information legislation.

“I can see no justification why this information is not released and it is clearly a matter of public interest.

“Many people will see this as an attempt to cover-up what may be a failure to implement any real changes following an extremely serious and worrying case.”

The girls family has now left the estate and started a new life in a different county.

Her father said: “He almost killed my daughter. Why was he allowed to be on our estate when he was when he had previous? He should not have been able to run the streets.

” The report should be made public so everyone knows the sort of person he is.

The girl’s mother added: “That thug should never have been allowed to live on an estate full of young families.”

Shocking images released by the victim’s family show the patchwork of scars and staples inserted into the wounds following the vicious assault.

In refusing to release the internal report, Julie Grant, a reviewing officer for Stockton Borough Council, wrote: “The review of procedures centred on an audit of social care intervention in respect of a living individual.

“This was not the part of the criminal investigation and as far as I can ascertain was not discussed in open court.

“Given the passage of time and the fact that the criminal proceedings are concluded any disclosure of personal data arising from the councils audit is in my view unwarranted.

“Disclosure would not cause any embarrassment for the council but it is likely to cause further harm and distress to Connor Hodgson.”

The council did release the changes it has implemented since the review, which include:

*For long-term cases involving sexually harmful behaviour, or for medium to high-risk behaviour, managers undertake supervision monthly as opposed to quarterly;

*Minutes of “Team around the Child” meetings are shared with the Youth Offending Service and time scales for agreed actions are enforced;

*Training on the risk assessment framework and processes is carried out;

*Offending history to be detailed on a “significant event” screen.