A 15-year-old schoolboy spent secret hours on the Internet visiting a gay teen chat room while his family slept, a court was told yesterday.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, arranged sexual liaisons with other youngsters in his area.

But he said he was shocked when he met a contact he knew as 19-year-old Michael, who turned out to be 51-year-old petrol pump attendant Michael Britton.

Ann Richardson, prosecuting, alleged that Mr Britton "groomed" the boy, who is from Darlington, for sex by buying him a £2,500 motor scooter for his 16th birthday.

The boy told Teesside Crown Court: "I thought he was 19.

"When I told him I wanted a scooter for my 16th birthday he said that he would buy it for me. I thought if I stopped talking to him I would not get the scooter - I was greedy really.

"When he got out of the taxi and I asked him how old he was he said he was 40.

"Later I discovered he was 50."

The boy said that Mr Britton handcuffed him to a bed at a hotel in Grange Road, Darlington, where he then committed a serious sex act.

Mr Britton's barrister, Tim Roberts QC, produced printouts of text messages from the boy to Mr Britton.

Mr Britton told police that he was bisexual and that the boy made contact with him on the Internet.

Mr Britton of Bewbrush, Crawley, denies rape, two indecent assaults and two offences of taking indecent photographs of a child in May and June last year.

The case continues