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Norfolk rugby coach jailed for sex offences offered to buy vape in exchange for sex with 13-year-old boy

PUBLISHED: 13:27 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 30 May 2019

Robert Eustace, 54, has been jailed for more than five years after pleading guilty to six sexual offences against three teenage boys. Photo: ARCHANT

Robert Eustace, 54, has been jailed for more than five years after pleading guilty to six sexual offences against three teenage boys. Photo: ARCHANT

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A Norfolk rugby coach who preyed on teenagers and offered to buy a 13-year-old boy a vape in exchange for sex has been jailed for more than five years.

Robert Eustace, 54, has been jailed for more than five years after pleading guilty to six sexual offences against three teenage boys. Photo: West Yorkshire PoliceRobert Eustace, 54, has been jailed for more than five years after pleading guilty to six sexual offences against three teenage boys. Photo: West Yorkshire Police

Robert Eustace, from Aylsham, groomed vulnerable teenage boys on social media, including offering them gifts and asking to meet in hotels and woods for sex.

The 54-year-old married father, who targeted boys in different parts of the country, had a total of 190 indecent child images on his phone when he was arrested.

Eustace was jailed for five years and six months at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday, May 28, after Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said his crimes had caused "a considerable amount of damage".

The judge added: "What puzzles me is the fact that you have a child of your own. Never for a moment did you think what if your own child was groomed by someone else. How would you feel?"

Eustace's offences were brought to light in 2017 after the mother of a 15-year-old boy saw his explicit messages on her son's iPad and contacted West Yorkshire Police.

Abigail Langford, prosecuting, said messages were discovered on the 15-year-old's phone from 'Rob Norfolk' and referred to him wanting to have sex with the boy.

Eustace was arrested and evidence found he had contacted another 15-year-old boy in 2011-12.

Miss Langford said no meeting took place as the boy was scared.

And investigations revealed Eustace had contacted a third boy, aged 13, via the messaging app Kik, offered to buy him a vape in exchange for sex and asked him to send indecent images of himself.

Eustace, of Sir Williams Close, pleaded guilty to six sexual offences against three boys over a six-year period between 2011 and 2017. including two of engaging in sexual communication with a child, two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, two of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, possession of indecent images of a child and possession of an extreme pornographic image.

Michael Clare, mitigating, said no meetings with any of the victims ever took place.

"He seems to have led some kind of fantasy double life, engaging in crude conversations on the Internet but not actually coming in to contact with them," he said.

The barrister said Eustace was a member of a rugby club and coached a junior team. None of the offending is linked to anyone connected with the rugby club.

Detective Inspector Jordan Piper of Wakefield District Police, said: "Robert Eustace betrayed the trust of those around him and is without doubt a sexual predator who has done significant harm to his young victims.

"The wider nature of his offending came to light following a Wakefield Police investigation regarding a victim in West Yorkshire and since then we have been working closely with partner forces and organisations to support victims and uncover the wider extent of his crimes.

"West Yorkshire Police takes all allegations of sexual offences extremely seriously and has dedicated, specialist safeguarding officers who are fully trained in investigating both current and historic reports. We would urge anyone who has been a victim of a sexual offence to please come forward so that we can ensure that they are provided with appropriate support."

Eustace previously owned a number of pubs in north Norfolk including the Three Horseshoes in Briston, near Holt, which he and his wife reopened in August 2011, after living in the village for two years.

Eustace was also the franchise holder for the Pavilion pub in Hindringham which opened the same year, and the former owner of a pub in Kent which he sold in 1997.

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