Former EastEnders actor Joseph Shade admits sex offences

Image source, PA
Image caption, Ex-EastEnders actor Joseph Shade admitted sex offences against three girls between 2012 and 2015

Former EastEnders actor Joseph Shade has admitted sexual offences against three teenage girls.

The youth worker, from Sheringham in Norfolk, played Peter Beale as a child from 1998 until 2004.

Shade, 24, admitted five counts of causing or inciting a child under 18 to engage in sexual activity while in a position of trust and one count of sexual activity with a child.

He was released on bail and will be sentenced at a later date.

The offences were committed against three girls aged between 14 and 17, and happened between 2012 and 2015, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Shade was a youth worker at a project in Norfolk at the time when he sent sexual text messages to girls and touched one on the bottom, prosecutor Chris Paxton said.

The former soap actor had been helped by the youth project himself, but "as he reached the age of 18 he became formally employed as a youth worker... and engaged with many young people who came from similar backgrounds and vulnerabilities as he had", Mr Paxton said.

Image caption, He played the character Peter Beale (being carried, above) between 1998 and 2004

"During the course of his employment he accepts by his pleas that his relationships became too close to a number of attendees and he would engage with them by texting them messages asking them to have sex or to send sexual pictures of breasts and the like.

"On one occasion and only one occasion he touched one of them."

Shade had no previous convictions and was "tearful and expressed a degree of remorse" when interviewed by police, Mr Paxton told the court.

Image source, PA
Image caption, Joseph Shade denied the charges when he first appeared in court last December

He had initially denied 11 sexual offences against four girls, but changed his plea, admitting to six counts against three of the teenagers.

The prosecution ordered the remaining five counts to lie on file.

Judge Maureen Bacon warned Shade he could face a jail sentence.

Speaking after the hearing, an NSPCC spokesman said: "Shade was trusted to protect children but he appallingly abused this trust by carrying out sex offences against them.

"Crimes of this nature can have a lasting effect on children and [his] young victims must receive all appropriate support to recover."

Shade is one of a number of actors who have appeared in the BBC soap playing Ian and Cindy Beale's son, Peter. The character was named after his grandfather, market stallholder Pete Beale.

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