June 2013


A CIRCUS performer who carried out a sex act on the internet in front of a 14-year-old boy has been spared prison.

Christopher Hodder, 27, of Kirkby Stephen, befriended the boy after he began teaching him at a circus school.

He sent the boy a series of text messages and a graphic photo and the pair were involved in online sex sessions via Skype, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

The incidents came to light when the victim’s father came across messages on Facebook exchanged between the two.

He became extremely concerned and contacted police as he had known Hodder for a number of years, the court heard.

In his police interview, Hodder admitted encouraging the boy to meet up, although they never actually did.

Hodder had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing last month to two offences of causing a child to watch a sexual act.

In mitigation, the court heard that Hodder fully accepted responsibility for the incidents and abusing his position of trust. He also showed genuine remorse for his behaviour and he had himself been a victim of abuse as a child and felt anger and revulsion at his behaviour, the court heard.

Sentencing Hodder to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, Judge Barbara Forrester described it as a “life-changing incident” for him and took into account the abuse he suffered as a child.

She added: “This is an unusual case because we are talking about electronic contact. But because of your position of trust it is appropriate to mark the seriousness of the offences.”

Hodder was also given a two-year supervision order, ordered to sign the sexual offender’s register for 10 years and banned from working with children.