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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK
Briton in US court on sex charges
Map showing Fort Madison, Iowa
A British man has appeared in court in the United States, charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl he met over the internet.

Barry Beadle, 51, from Southport, Merseyside, was charged in April with third degree sexual assault and harbouring a runaway.

Each charge carries a maximum 15-year federal prison sentence.

Police in Fort Madison, Iowa, alleged that Mr Beadle had flown to America and spent several nights in a hotel room with the girl.

Police were called to his hotel because of a dispute over the bill, and were told by an employee that a young girl had been staying with him.

Her description matched that of a recent runaway.

Family notified

Fort Madison police chief Sam Lozano said they believed a friendship had developed between Mr Beadle and the girl via the internet over the previous three months.

Before flying to the US, Mr Beadle had been living off disability benefit following a stroke. He also ran a mobile disco.

Neighbours said that Mr Beadle had travelled abroad to meet a "penpal" that he had originally met over the internet.

One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "He was on the internet 24/7 and kept going on about her".

Mr Beadle is currently being held in Lee County Jail, Iowa.

His next appearance at Rock Island Court in Illinois will be on 12 September.


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