April 2010

Paedophile gets 7 years for ‘depraved’ sex offences

A businessman from North Devon has been jailed for seven years for committing sex offences against two girls after grooming them both with explicit text messages.

Chris Day, 38, of Moreton Park Road, Bideford, also downloaded more than 1,800 child sexual abuse images from the internet.

Day, in a shirt and smart trousers, stood with his head bowed and hands clasped in front of him as his prison sentence was imposed at Exeter Crown Court yesterday.

It was said in mitigation that his family business, a flooring company, was struggling to survive as a result of the “absolutely devastating” publicity about his crimes involving two girls aged 14 and 15.

He was convicted at an earlier trial of 18 offences, having denied them all, claiming to have no sexual interest in the girls and to have only accidentally received child sexual abuse images, as unwanted ‘pop ups’ on other legal sites.

Judge Philip Wassall said: “Overall, I found the evidence to be overwhelming against you.”

He described some of the computer images as being the “most serious and depraved” type of their kind.

Judge Wassall said Day was not predatory, in the sense that he did not approach the girls but met them through innocent means.

But he added: “You were grooming them, began to take liberties with them and then committed offences against them.”

Prosecutor Gareth Evans said Day’s two victims had suffered sleeplessness, psychological harm and needed counselling.

Day had sent each of them explicit text messages and then committed sexual offences. Mr Evans told the court about one incident during which Day asked one of the girls to send him intimate photographs on her phone, after texting “I think your body looks good.”

Police became involved after an adult discovered one of the girls trying to send a sexual text message to Day.

She told police how she confided in Day that she had no experience with boys, as they sat in his car, and he replied: “I’m just going to have to teach you then.”

The court heard that the other youngster was initially reluctant to help the investigation but later told police about his behaviour, saying she thought they had been having an “affair”. During the investigation, police discovered three of Day’s computers had a total of 1,852 child porn images downloaded from the internet.

Richard Crabb, defending, said his client had no criminal record and had a good reputation for charity work. He added Day had found it difficult in custody, including harming himself.

“The fact of conviction has had a huge impact upon his family,” said Mr Crabb.

He added that Day’s business had been launched by his late father and had been doing well but was now losing contracts since the case.

“Publicity has been absolutely devastating,” he said.

Judge Wassall imposed a Sex Offences Prevention order and told Day to put his details on the Sex Offenders Register, until further notice.