June 2010

Five years for assaults on schoolgirls ten years ago

A man indecently assaulted two young girls invited to his home to play with his own children, a court heard.

Mark Richards, 41, invited one girl to his Plymouth house on a number of occasions, using games such as hide-and-seek to be alone with her and molest her.

Ten years later, she told her mother and an investigation began, which led to a second girl coming forward.

She said that during sleepovers, Richards would wake her up and take her downstairs to watch TV with him, then indecently assaulted her.

Prosecutor Nick Lewin said this always happened when Richards’ wife was at work or out playing bingo.

Richards pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault against each girl, though the first girl was assaulted at least five times and the second on ten occasions.

Police seized Richards’ laptop and 400 of indecent images of children: 315 at level one, 66 at level two, 55 at level three and 28 at level four.

Level one is the least serious and level five the most serious. He also had 35 images of extreme adult pornography.

Mr Lewin said Richards initially denied all the charges and when asked if he had a sexual interest in children, gave a “no comment” interview.

Andrew Maitland, for Richards, said his client unreservedly apologised for the indecent assaults, committed over a seven-month period in 1999. “His remorse is absolute,” he said.

Mr Maitland said that during Richards’ 211 days on remand, he had been held in a special prison wing and had been unable to get treatment or counselling. But he was keen to co-operate with any treatment which would address his needs.

High Court Judge the Hon Mr Justice Royce told Richards, of Alexandra Road, Ford, Plymouth: “You took terrible advantage of these very young girls.

“You were clearly in a position of trust and grossly abused that position of trust.”

He sentenced Richards to a total of five years in jail for the indecent assaults on the girls and a further nine months for the pornography offences, a total of five years nine months less 211 days spent on remand.

He also ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register and imposed a Sexual Offending Prevention Order.