December 2019

Manipulative paedophile targeted six-year-old girl likening grooming to a ‘game of chess’

A dangerous and manipulative paedophile once at the centre of an international manhunt has been jailed after telling a jury he played a family like a game of chess.

Jack Hall groomed a six-year-old girl who he told a jury was a ‘ray of sunshine’ – taking her to a shop, encouraging her to hide in bushes with him at Browndown Ranges in Gosport and roll around on the floor together.

The 62-year-old admitted buying her a book and sweets while ingratiating himself with her family who had no idea of his past offending against children.

Her unsuspecting mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, treated the pervert as a ‘close family friend’ as he tricked her for months.

But secretly the pervert, who goes by Hall but whose real name is David Chadwick, has been repeatedly jailed in Britain and once in the Netherlands

His past crimes include breaking into a boarding school and abusing boys in the 1990s, taking and sharing abuse images, and violently assaulting a victim.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Hall, who has previously gone on the run from police around the world, may have abused a child when living in New Zealand in the 2000s.

Just before he was released from a seven-year term in January this year police secured a sexual harm prevention order from magistrates, banning him from unsupervised access to children.

But within months he had breached this by playing out his perverted methods. At the end of his trial prosecutor Sally Mertens told a stunned jury Hall’s method sees him ‘befriend children of families’ he finds.

Hall took his latest victim – who was not abused by him – to a shop alone, and played ‘inappropriately’ with her as she rolled across his chest on the ground at Browndown Ranges in Gosport on a trip where the pair vanished in bushes for between five and 10 minutes.

The girl’s mother and mother’s partner were in disbelief when later told by police Hall was a convicted sex offender.

Hall said he looked at his interactions with the trio ‘as a game of chess’ – adding he did not expect to see them for very long.

He told jurors: ‘I likened it to a game of chess. I’m not particularly going out my way to court a friendship with (the couple). I enjoyed their company. I’m very saddened by the way this has turned out.’

Speaking to The News after Hall was convicted, the girl’s mother said: ‘In chess you play eight or nine moves in front. It’s all about attack and he’s the leader going to attack his goal.

‘We were pawns in his game, the police were the Queen and he was going for the king, which was my daughter. I don’t know if he identified the child as a sexual being or if it’s just a game.’

During his trial he denied the breach – but in his own evidence admitted being alone with the girl.

But asked if he was always supervised he admitted only ‘90 per cent’ of the time. 

He added: ‘Very briefly we were together on our own.’

Jurors took two hours and 27 minutes to convict Hall, who grinned in the dock as he learnt pupils on a school visit were due to observe the trial.

Jailing him, judge William Ashworth said: ‘The natural boundaries of a child had been eroded, and her parents had been eroded, by you in a very short space of time.

‘With your history and having seen you give evidence… I’m in no doubt that your intention was to break down the barriers between you and (the girl) and her family so that you could sexually abuse her.’

Shaking his head in the dock Hall shot back: ‘Not at all.’

Hall, represented by Jonathan Underhill instructed by Eric Robinson Solicitors, was ‘lavishing attention’ on the girl, the judge said.

‘You were grooming both her and her parents and there was a substantial risk of very serious harm from you to (the girl),’ judge Ashworth added.

He said: ‘You represent a very high risk of offending against children.’

Hall shook his head as he was jailed close to the five-year maximum term for breaching a sexual harm prevention order. 

He must sign the sex offenders’ register for life.

After hearing, the girl’s mother said: ‘It’s good that it’s a strong sentence. However, I don’t think it should be overlooked that the court has this sentencing powers in relation to multiple child sex offenders.

‘In reality he is going to be out in half, in two years’ time, that’s what worries me.’

She added: ‘As far as the police, I feel that they genuinely stopped my daughter from being abused.’