A RAPIST refused to leave his cell as his victim returned to court to see him jailed for nine years yesterday.

Lawrence Woodhouse, 45, was sentenced in his absence for serious sex crimes against a schoolgirl dating from 2006.

His victim, who gave evidence during a trial last month, travelled to Teesside Crown Court to see justice carried out.

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David Lamb, prosecuting, said: “She would wish to see him face-to-face to see him sentenced, but there are no powers to force him.”

Stephen Thornton, in mitigation, said his client “seemed a little dazed” and was struggling to cope with being convicted and remanded in custody.

The security guard, of Pontop View, Consett, was found guilty of rape and five other child sex offences.

Mr Thornton described him as “a rather foolish older man” and said that after a brief conference yesterday morning, his client refused to speak to him.

The court heard how the teenager, who cannot be named, was raped in a caravan after being driven into the countryside by her attacker.

Woodhouse took her to Northumberland to carry out the abuse, and when she asked what he was doing, replied: “I’m just playing.”

Mr Lamb told the court that Woodhouse warned the youngster not to reveal what had happened because it would “kill” her boyfriend and her parents.

Woodhouse carried out the first attack in a lay-by close to Slaley Hall, near Hexham, in his touring caravan. On another occasion, he took the girl to a lay-by near Delves Lane, Consett.

Mr Lamb said that each time, he made her run to and from the car to the caravan to prevent anyone seeing what they were up to.

During two interviews after his arrest last year, he said the girl was aged over 16 when the incidents took place.

Mr Lamb said that Woodhouse was aware of her age and that it happened when she was below the age of consent.

On one occasion, the youngster was in her school uniform when he picked her up.

During the trial, the prosecutor accused Woodhouse of grooming the girl and using “elaborate chicanery” so she did what he wanted.

In April last year, police were alerted to what had been happening after the girl’s parents learnt of it.