July 2000

Riding school boss lured girl, 15, into sex

A RIDING school boss took advantage of a youngster’s obsession with horses to seduce her into having sex.

Patrick Cronin, 51, spent three years wooing the 15-year-old at his stables before beginning a relationship with her.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Cronin met the girl at his Fatfield Riding School, in Washington, on Wearside, in August last year. He preyed on the schoolgirl’s love of horses to make his move.

The pair were soon embroiled in a sexual relationship, even though Cronin knew the girl was under age.

Prosecuting Anthony Hawks told the court how the relationship began with touching but quickly developed until they were having regular sex at Cronin’s home, at Concord, Washington, and in his car.

On one occasion a sex act took place on the landing of Cronin’s home while two other teenage girls sat drinking in a room downstairs.

The court was told Cronin was exposed six months later when the youngster began to talk about her relationship with a social worker.

Cronin, who is separated from his second wife, was arrested and at first denied the claims. But he later admitted he had seduced the teenager.

Cronin pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex and to indecent assault.

He was also charged with indecently assaulting another teenager, but the prosecution accepted his not guilty plea.

In mitigation Beatrice Bolton said that the girl had become infatuated with Cronin out of her love for horses.

She said: “The sex was consensual, but he ought to and does know better.”

Cronin, of Park Avenue, Concord, Washington, was jailed for 21 months and placed on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.