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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Man had sex with chatroom girl, 14
Child at computer
Hipperson met the girl through a Microsoft chatroom
A man who started a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl he met in a Microsoft internet chatroom has pleaded guilty to gross indecency.

Magistrates in Leamington, Warwickshire, heard how 22-year-old David Hipperson began corresponding with the teenager, who lives in the town, after posting a profile of himself online.

The hearing came as Microsoft announced plans to close all its chatrooms in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and most of Asia from 14 October.

The court heard how Hipperson travelled from his home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, on three occasions, to meet the girl at a hotel in Leamington where he had booked a room.

He had sex with her on the first two meetings, but was arrested on the third, in August this year, at the Falstaff Hotel, Leamington, the court heard.

There was no force or coercion used at any stage. In his mind he was in a serious relationship with her
Ian Lewis, defending

The girl's parents had contacted police when they discovered she was not staying with a friend.

The court heard how the girl, who had told Hipperson she was 16 and studying hairdressing at a local college, had refused to end the relationship despite her parents' protests.

When officers raided the hotel room they found a bag belonging to Hipperson containing condoms, a sex aids catalogue and knee-length rubber stockings.

Mark Lunt, prosecuting, told the court that Hipperson had admitted having sex with the teenager when they met up in February and again in April.

Relationship halted

Of their final encounter, Mr Lunt said Hipperson had admitted various "sexual goings-on" which had "fallen short of full sexual intercourse."

The court was told the girl's parents had contacted Hipperson's mother, telling her the relationship should end. But despite a brief halt, they continued texting each other and eventually resumed contact.

Hipperson pleaded guilty to one count of gross indecency with a girl under 16.

Ian Lewis, defending, said Hipperson had been unaware of the girl's true age during their first two meetings.

He told the court that Hipperson, then 21, discovered in June that the girl was actually 14, but he decided to continue seeing her albeit in a non-sexual relationship.

Sex offenders' register

Mr Lewis added: "Mr Hipperson is an inexperienced, trusting, perhaps naive young man. He made contact with the victim through a Microsoft Network chatroom which attracts one million users a month and he is far from unusual in using them.

"There was no force or coercion used at any stage. In his mind he was in a serious relationship with her, he lost his virginity to her. Mr Hipperson fully admits he was in love with her."

Hipperson was granted bail on condition he made no contact with the girl or entered Leamington Spa.

Sentencing was adjourned until 16 October for the preparation of reports. Hipperson was also placed on the Sex Offenders' Register.




SEE ALSO:
MSN shuts down its chatrooms
24 Sep 03  |  Technology
Internet users debate MSN's closure
24 Sep 03  |  Magazine
Chatroom closure under fire
24 Sep 03  |  Technology
Charities welcome chatroom closure
24 Sep 03  |  Technology


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