A FORMER kids TV presenter who worked with Fearne Cotton has been convicted of rape – as well as killing two people in a high speed crash.
Paul Ballard, 39, was found guilty of raping a woman in a hotel room – telling her that she was “dying tonight” in the horror attack.
Ballard, who played Des in GMTV’s Diggit, also ploughed into cars in a 104mph crash while high on cannabis and cocaine – killing two people.
The children's TV presenter from Theydon Bois, Essex, had starred on Diggit from 1998 to 2002 with Fearne Cotton, Craig Doyle, and Reggie Yates.
He is awaiting sentencing for the rape charges after being convicted after a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Ballard was found guilty of rape, attempted rape, assault, criminal damage, and threats to kill.
The court heard that he attacked the woman in a hotel room in Hatfield Heath, Essex, in the early hours of September 19 last year.
His terrified victim managed to escape the room and informed a member of staff about the attack who called the police.
Ballard denied raping and threatening the victim, claiming that they had consentual sex.
Detective Constable Dan Lambert, who led the investigation, said: "Ballard has never taken responsibility for his actions – indeed he continued to deny them throughout the trial.
"It is telling that the jury arrived at a verdict within two hours. I hope this provides some comfort to his victim, who he subjected to a terrifying ordeal that night in September last year."
104MPH IN 30MPH ZONE
Ballard was today jailed for nine years after admitting two counts of death by dangerous driving.
He was driving between “88mph and 104mph” in a 30mph zone before he hit the back of Ms Haskell's Ford Kuga.
The second victim, schoolteacher Richard Trezise, 48, was waiting at a bus stop with his wife and children when he was hit in the chest by the car and killed in the pile-up.
Eight cars were involved in the collision just after 1pm on February 20 last year, and at least seven people were treated in hospital.
Ms Haskell was pronounced dead at the scene and following a post-mortem examination the cause of death was found to be multiple injuries.
Cocaine addict Ballard was driving with his 12-year-old son in the front passenger seat and claimed he suffered a seizure before the crash, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Trezise was pronounced dead at 2pm and a post-mortem examination concluded that the cause of death was multiple severe injuries to the chest.
Half an hour later, at 2.30pm, Ms Haskell was pronounced dead at the scene and following a post-mortem examination the cause of death was found to be multiple injuries, particularly to the brain stem.
The other drivers involved in the smash escaped with only minor injuries.
'FITTING AND SHAKING'
Eyewitnesses reported seeing Ballard "fitting", describing him as "shaking and not responsive".
On 24 September last year Ballard admitted to police that he was addicted to cocaine and had taken some that day.
Judge Richard Marks, QC, jailed Paul Ballard for nine years for causing the deaths of Eileen Haskell and Richard Trezise.
The judge said Mr Trezise was a "much-loved father and husband, as well as a hugely respected teacher."
He added: "His wife and son witnessed these events, they saw him fall to the floor after he'd been hit.
"Both Mr Trezise and Mrs Haskell were pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. Miraculously your son only had minor injuries.
"The fact that other individuals were not killed, or were not seriously injured, is entirely fortuitous.
"It goes without saying that no sentence I am imposing on you will seem adequate to any of them or be capable of compensating either family for their absolutely devastating loss.
"You drove with your 12-year-old son next to you, thereby putting him substantially at risk."
Ballard was jailed for nine years and he will be disqualified for seven years once he is released from prison.
He must also take an extended driving test before he can take the wheel.
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