Christopher Gittins, 23, member of the BoogieStorm team, finalist of 2016 BGT, has been jailed, using a boy as an ’emotional crutch’ and repeatedly abused his victim for his own ‘gratification’, Caernarfon Crown Court reported.
He pleaded guilty to six counts relating to him engaging in sexual activity with the boy, who was aged between 13 and 15, ahead of being sentenced yesterday.His offences are in the most serious category under the sentencing guidelines, worsened in preview by the fact that there is a ‘significant difference in age’ between him and the victim, now 15.
Judge Niclas Parry, sentencing, declared that: ‘This has been an abuse of trust. You took advantage of a 13-year-old. What you did was to groom him and cause him to believe he was special. You would call him and buy him gifts. You clearly knew that what you were doing was illegal.’
Prosecutor John Philpotts said the matter came to light “when the teen’s mother borrowed his phone and read the Facebook messages from Gittins.” Reading her impact statement in court the victim’s mother cried to the court that Gittins had robbed the boy and his family of his ‘childhood’ and his ‘innocence’.
She said he had lost his friends and his confidence as a result of what had happened.‘When I read the messages you sent to my son, I felt sick,’ she told him. The victim has said the experience left him ‘anxious’ and that his education had suffered.
Gittins was arrested on January 9, 2019, the day after his mother reported her suspicions to Newtown Police Station. His lawyer John Hedgecoe, told the court: ‘He has indicated remorse and has accepted his responsibility throughout.’
Gittins will be jailed for two years and nine months on each count of the charges to be served simultaneously in tandem.
He must serve half of his sentence before being able to be liable for release on licence.He will be put on Sexual Harm Prevention Order for life, meaning he cannot approach males aged under 16 under any circumstances. He must also pay the victims’ surcharge.
BoogieStorm reached the final of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2016. They received Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer at the show, leaving them in third place.
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