January 2011

Minimum of 14 years in jail for child sex offences

paedophile was last night starting a lengthy jail sentence for horrific sex attacks on two young girls.

Judge Graham Cottle imposed an indeterminate sentence on Anthony Ward, 48, describing him as a “classic” sex offender who groomed his victims before subjecting them to increasingly degrading acts.

Ward dubbed one young girl “the chosen one”, took pictures of her and told her that he knew people who would pay money to abuse her.

Judge Cottle jailed Ward, formerly of Bampfylde Road, Exeter, for a minimum of 14 years, saying: “If you are free, there is very real chance you will abuse again.”

Ward pleaded guilty to 19 sex offences when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court on November 23 last year. They include rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, sexually assaulting a girl aged under 13, assault on a girl aged under 13 where there is penetration and inciting a girl under 13 in sexual activity.

The offences relate to two separate victims.

He appeared before Judge Cottle sitting in the same court for sentencing yesterday.

Prosecution barrister Andrew Oldland said seven offences against his first victim took place in the 1990s.

“She describes a pattern of abuse that gets worse over time,” he told the court.

The remainder relate to his second victim who was aged under 11 at the time of the attacks.

He started with sexual touching before progressing on to more serious sexual crimes. The offences were sometimes accompanied by a “significant level of violence”, the court heard.

Mr Oldland said: “She says he would call her ‘the chosen one’ or the ‘special one’.”

On one occasion Ward took photographs of the young girl and told her he was getting messages from people who were willing to pay money to abuse her.

The effect of Ward’s attacks has left his two victims encountering difficulties when trying to form relationships with members of the opposite sex, the court heard.

Defence barrister Robert Lindford said he could only offer “crumbs of mitigation” and credit should be given to his client for his early guilty pleas.

Judge Cottle said: “This is classic paedophile behaviour – targeting and grooming and the progression of touching through to the commission of the full gamut of sex offences against children.”

In passing his sentence Judge Cottle told Ward: “The consequences for the victims have been, and continue to be, extremely serious. There is a very real likelihood that, given further opportunity, you would behave in the same way again – causing further serious harm to a child.

“In these circumstances the court must act to prevent that very real likelihood and the only way that can be done is by passing an indeterminate sentence.”

Ward must serve a minimum of 14 years. A Sexual Offences Prevention Order was also made and Ward was ordered sign the Sex Offenders Register.