Shade played Peter Beale on the soap from 1998 – 2004, before becoming a youth worker
Former EastEnders actor Joseph Shade is facing jail time after admitting a host of child sex offences against three teenage girls.
The 24-year-old, who portrayed son on Ian Beale, Peter on the soap for six years from 1998, asked victims for ‘sex’ while being employed as a youth worker the court heard.
On Thursday morning, the fourth day of his trial, the former child star dramatically changed his pleas to guilty – after first denying all of the claims – whilst appearing at Norwich Crown Court.
“He was a youth worker at the Holt Youth Project which is a project in the north of this county,” said the prosecutor Chris Paxton. “He himself attended that youth project as a young person and got help from them.”
“As he reached the age of 18 he became formally employed as a youth worker at the centre. In his capacity as a youth worker he then engaged with many young people who came from similar backgrounds, similar vulnerabilities which he had.”
Paxton, setting out the case against Shade, revealed that he had become “too close” with a number of young females attending the youth project, who, he then tested by asking for explicit pictures and sexual favours via text message.
“During the course of his employment… his relationships became too close with a number of the attendees, a number of females.”
“He would engage with them by testing them messages asking them to have sex or asking them to send pictures of themselves, sending pictures of their breasts and the like.
“On one occasion and only one occasion he touched one of those attendees.” The court heard Shade admitted to some of the offences in police interviews and the prosecutor added: “He was tearful and expressed a deal of remorse during the course of those interviews.”
The jury, which consisted of five women and seven men, delivered automatic guilty verdicts on five counts of inciting an underage girl to engage in a sexual activity and one of sexual activity with an underage girl while being in a position of trust between 2012 and 2015.
Further allegations against Shade, of Sheringham, Norfolk, involving one other underage victim were dropped by the prosecution.
The dropped allegations were one count of inciting an underage girl to a sexual act with him as he was in a position of trust and four counts of inciting an underage child to engage in sexual activity.
The court heard that the victims were schoolgirls aged between 13 and 17.
Mr Paxton said: “The Crown accepts those guilty pleas to deal in a satisfactory way with the entirety of the indictment, therefore we would not need to engage the services of the jury in relation to the other counts.
“Speaking of the victim, he added: “She has been spoken to, her family have been spoken to about the position.
“The overall pleas are acceptable to the Crown Prosecution Service and in due course the remaining counts can be left to lie on the file.”
Shade, who has short brown hair and appeared in the dock in a light blue shirt, dark blue tie and dark trousers, showed no emotion as a judge said he faced jail.
Judge Maureen Bacon QC said: “On the face of it this will be a custodial sentence but I need all available material before I can make that decision.”
She released Shade, who was represented by Matthew McNiff, on bail to return to the court to be sentenced at a date to be fixed.