A court in Eugene, Oregon, sentenced a Welsh lifeguard to 50 years in prison after he flew to the U.S. and repeatedly raped a 10-year-old girl he met online.
Authorities say Gareth Vincent Hall, 22, worked at swimming center in Wales where he monitored children in the pool while he groomed the 10-year-old girl in Oregon online, the Daily Mail reports.
Hall flew to Oregon in April 2015 and sexually assaulted the girl in various hotel rooms before returning back to his job taking care of children in Wales.
“Hall met the girl through an online chat program,” Detective Jed McGuire explained. “They spoke for two months before meeting when he picked her up in a rental car and took her to a hotel.”
"One of the things we hope to answer is why he traveled so far to meet with one person,” McGuire said, The Sun reports. “One might read into it that he wanted to stay away from his home area. That's my speculation at this point."
The girl's family is shocked and angry.
“She fell into a trap. Hall was a terrorist -- his actions have decimated our family,” said the child’s grandmother.
Hall commented after hearing his sentence read out on March 2: “I understand that I must serve the entire sentence, and will not be eligible for any good time credit, and will not be eligible for any type of temporary release, and will not be eligible for any program that reduces my sentence below the mandatory minimum.”
He claimed he did not know the child’s true age before flying to Oregon.
“Hall believed that she appeared to be 16 or 17. The age of consent in Hall's homeland is 16,” his lawyer John Volmert said.
Judge Jay McAlpin did not believe him.
"I have seen photographs of the girl and any reasonable person would know she was not old enough to consent to sex," McAlpin said. "I don't think it was an innocent mistake. He will be getting sentence he deserves.”
Hall was fired from his job at the swimming pool.
"All employees who work with children and young people must comply fully with Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks,” a spokesman said.
The spokesman said no child or adult had come forward about any misconduct from Hall.