'He led a fantasy double life': Sex predator rugby coach offered to buy vape for 13-year-old boy in exchange for sex

Robert Eustace offered to buy 13-year-old a vape for sex during campaign of online grooming
Robert Eustace offered to buy 13-year-old a vape for sex during campaign of online grooming

A rugby coach who groomed teenage boys on social media and arranged to meet up with them for sex has been locked up for more than five years.

Robert Eustace preyed on vulnerable youngsters, offered them gifts and asked to meet up with them at hotels and woods for sexual encounters.

Leeds Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court

Eustace, from Norfolk, targeted boys in different parts on the country including Yorkshire

The 54-year-old pervert was brought to justice after the mother a 15-year-old boy from Wakefield saw sexually explicit messages from Eustace on her son's iPad and contacted West Yorkshire Police.

Indecent images of children were also found on Eustace's mobile phone and other devices when he was arrested.

Leeds Crown Court heard the married father led a "fantasy double life" by contacting youngsters on social media and sending sexually explicit messages.

Eustace pleaded guilty to six sexual offences against three boys over a six-year period between 2011 and 2017.

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Abigail Langford, prosecuting, said the offending came to light in April 2017 when the mum of the teenager from Wakefield contacted police.

She had discovered messages which he had sent under the name 'Rob Norfolk'.

The messages referred to him wanting to have sex with the youngster and arranging to meet up with him.

Eustace was arrested and evidence was found that he had made contact with another 15-year-old boy in 2011 and 2012.

Eustace had chatted to the victim via Skype and made arrangements to meet up with him.

Miss Langford said no meeting ever took place as the boy was too scared.

Investigations revealed Eastace had contacted a third boy, aged 13, via Kik Messenger.

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He offered to by the child a vape in exchange for sex and asked the youngster to send indecent images of himself.

The defendant asked the boy if he had told anyone about arrangements they had made to meet up in woodland.

When the boy replied "no", Eustace sent him a message saying: "Good. Let's keep it that way."

A total of 190 indecent child images were found on Eustace's phone when he was arrested.

The court heard 37 still and moving images were at category A - the most serious level of offending.

Eustace, of Sir Williams Close, Aylsham, Norfolk, pleaded guilty to two offences of engaging in sexual communication with a child, two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, two of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, possession of indecent images of a child and possession of an extreme pornographic image.

Eustace only entered his pleas on the day one of the victims was brought to court to give video evidence prior to a trial.

Michael Clare, mitigating, said no meetings with any of the victims ever took place.

Mr Clare said Eustace had confessed to his wife and son about his offending and had made arrangements for them to be looked after while he was in custody.

The barrister said Eustace was a member of a rugby club and coached a junior team.

None of the offending is linked to anyone connected with the rugby club.

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Mr Clare said: "He seems to have led some kind of fantasy double life, engaging in crude kinds of conversations on the internet but not actually coming in to contact with them."

Jailing Eustace for five-and-a-half years, Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said the offending had a psychological impact on the victims and their families.

He said: "The meetings never took place.

"What pleasure you derived from making such suggestions, only you know.

"But the aftermath once these matters came to light has caused a considerable amount of damage.

"Not only to the complainants, but collateral damage in so far as their families were concerned.

"Parents who had to pick up the pieces after the matters came to light are bound to be affected by what took place.

"The children became anxious, lost confidence.

"Psychologically they were not the same as they were before.

"One child was already vulnerable by reason of the fact that he had mental health issues."

The judge added: "What puzzles me is the fact that you have a child of your own.

"Never for a moment did you think what if you own child was groomed by someone else. How would you feel?"

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After the case Detective Inspector Jordan Piper of Wakefield District Police, said: “Robert Eustace betrayed the trust of those around him and is without doubt a dangerous sexual predator who has done significant harm to his young victims.

“The wider nature of his offending came to light following a Wakefield Police investigation regarding a victim in West Yorkshire and since then we have been working closely with partner forces and organisations to support victims and uncover the wider extent of his crimes.

“West Yorkshire Police takes all allegations of sexual offences extremely seriously and has dedicated, specialist safeguarding officers who are fully trained in investigating both current and historic reports.

"We would urge anyone who has been a victim of a sexual offence to please come forward so that we can ensure that they are provided with appropriate support.”