October 2015

Former school caretaker found guilty of child sex crimes

james

A FORMER school caretaker is facing prison after being found guilty of “using and abusing” his position to commit sex crimes against four children.

James Hodgson, from Spennymoor, County Durham, was convicted of all the charges he faced after a seven-day trial at Teesside Crown Court.

The 61-year-old will return to court to be sentenced next month after background reports have been prepared, but was warned to expect a jail sentence.

Judge Sean Morris granted him bail until the next hearing and he will be sentenced on November 6.

The jury, whose deliberations went into a second day, heard how Hodgson treated the youngsters he preyed on to presents and sweets to gain their confidence and buy their silence.

One boy was warned that his mother would be killed if he ever spoke of the abuse, said prosecutor Paul Cleasby.

The young boy kept quiet out of fear, but his mood altered dramatically and he stopped enjoying going to school.

Mr Cleasby said: “This threat, we say, had a profound effect on him.

“He made an excuse to move schools, but the real reason he wanted to move schools was that he was scared of Mr Hodgson.

“He had started to have nightmares and at first his mother thought he was being bullied at school.”

The abuse came to light after police received a complaint from the family of a girl last September.

An investigation led to other pupils at the County Durham school complaining they had been targeted by the caretaker.

One girl said Mr Hodgson, 61, exposed himself to her after she was invited into his office and once in the pupils’ toilets.

Another said she was followed into the toilets and Hodgson looked over the top of the cubicle she was in.

Hodgson, of Moorside, Spennymoor, was found guilty of voyeurism, four sexual assaults, two each of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and three counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

After his arrest the defendant admitted hugging children, but denied abusing them.