Jan 2003

Prominent Labour Party activist Babysitter jailed for rape of toddler

A paedophile babysitter who gained the trust of a mother by showing a picture of himself with Tony and Cherie Blair, was jailed today for 15 years.

Prominent Labour Party activist Mark Tann, from Whitstable in Kent, pleaded guilty to 24 charges at Canterbury Crown Court including two counts of rape against a four-year-old girl.

Tann was also convicted of indecency with a girl aged nine.

The mother of one of his victims said Tann had “inflicted an unutterable amount of pain”.

Eleanor Laws, prosecuting, told how in 2001 Tann placed an advert in a shop offering his services as a babysitter.

The court heard that Tann, 29, established himself in the Whitstable community and claimed to have worked as a babysitter for 10 years, as well as raising funds for charities including the NSPCC.

The mother of a nine-year-old girl contacted him in June of that year.

Ms Laws said that while babysitting, Tann repeatedly woke up his victim to show her a pornographic video.

Photo found

The following morning, Tann showed her mother a number of photographs including one of himself with the prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie.

Tann was arrested in March 2002 when police discovered a photograph of the unnamed four-year-old girl during a search of Tann’s flat.

He babysat for her regularly between November 2001 and March 2002 when, just before his arrest, the four-year-old girl told her mother that Tann did “rude things to her”.

Ms Laws read a letter to the court which had been written by the girl’s mother.

In it she said: “I am physically shaking, my heart is pounding, my body feels like jelly.

“My brain is shell-shocked and consumed with the worst of fears for my daughter’s well-being and damage that may have been done to her sexually, psychologically and physically.

“A gamut of emotions fills my waking hours, including hatred, sadness, guilt that I have left this nasty man in charge of my two children, two vulnerable, precious, innocent, beautiful, trusting children.”

Pc Emma Atkins from Kent Police said : “He was calculating, cunning, devious and abused the parents’ trust in the worst possible way.”