Ex-carer jailed over child abduction

A former foster carer who hid a vulnerable boy in a hollowed-out washing machine so he could evade police was jailed for 33 months today after being found guilty of child abduction.

Christopher Waite, 35, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, hid the youngster, then aged 12, at his house and helped him escape from a secure unit, Winchester Crown Court heard.

Waite was first registered as a foster carer with Hampshire County Council in 2002 and later worked for a private firm, but he did not look after the boy, the jury was told during the three-month trial.

Instead the two had met in Basingstoke and Waite got "deeply involved" with the boy, who was in care and described as "very young and very vulnerable".

The court was told that the boy absconded from children's homes in southern England in 2007 and 2008 and stayed at Waite's house in Basingstoke.

Waite removed the insides of a washing machine so the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, could hide from the police.

The machine even had washing in the front to fool officers.

Waite was known to the boy's family and had attended conferences about the youngster's care with social services, but he ignored pleas to stop giving him money, cigarettes and shelter when he fled the home.

Eventually Waite was arrested for helping the boy when he was found in his garden.

The trial heard Waite was bailed and the youngster sent to a secure unit outside Hampshire to stop him contacting Waite.

But Waite helped him escape from a care worker when the boy went on a trip to Tesco's.

In the witness box Waite said he had acted this way because he disagreed with how Hampshire County Council was looking after the boy.

The jury found him guilty of two counts of child abduction.

The prosecution had also alleged during the trial that Waite had sexually abused the boy, but the jury rejected this.

He was found not guilty of one county of rape, one count of sexual assault, one count of sexually activity with a child, two counts of grooming a child and one count of inciting sexual activity with a child.

The jury could not reach decisions on three charges of possessing indecent images of children.

Waite had denied all the charges.

Judge Guy Boney QC gave jailed him for 15 months for the first count of child abduction and 18 months for the second one, to run consecutively.

He told Waite he had become involved in a "deeply inappropriate" relationship with the boy.

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