December 2008

Widnes paedophile jailed for eight years

A PAEDOPHILE who abused two sisters in his attic for nearly a decade has been jailed for eight years.

Stuart O’Neill, aged 46, of Cherry Sutton, in Hough Green, admitted 10 counts of indecent assault and sexual activity with a child at Warrington Crown Court on Monday.

Matthew Dunford, prosecuting, said O’Neill had abused the eldest sister, now aged 17, between the ages of nine and 11 from 1999 to 2002.

He then turned his attentions to the youngest sister, now aged 15, abusing her when she was aged between 10 and 14 from 2003 to February 2008 this year.

The court heard how the children would visit his home regularly as O’Neill had been placed in a ‘position of trust and responsibility’.

But the youngest sister told a classroom assistant what had been going on in May this year. After she was interviewed by police, officers spoke to her older sister who revealed she had been his first victim.

Mr Dunford said: “He would tell her she was gorgeous when they went up to his attic to get toys down.

“He sometimes gave her money to keep her quiet and evidently she did, until the police asked her questions.”

The youngest sister told police O’Neill’s behaviour had ‘ruined her life’ and she had begun self-harming, while the older girl said she finds relationships difficult, is scared around men, suffered from ‘terrible nightmares’ and has also self-harmed.

O’Neill denied the abuse when he was arrested on May 22.

He said that he and the youngest girl had just been ‘horsing around’.

But he admitted the offences when interviewed again in relation to the oldest sister’s accusations on June 9.

O’Neill has a previous conviction for possession of cannabis with intent to supply from 2006.

Natalia Cornwall, defending, said her client had made ‘full and frank’ admissions.

She said: “He is deeply sorry for what happened. He is racked with guilt and he is deeply ashamed of his behaviour.”

Judge Roger Dutton described O’Neill’s abuse as a ‘blight’ upon the two girls’ future lives.

He said: “The impact that this catalogue of offences has had on these two young women is horrific.”

O’Neill, wearing a shirt and waterproof jacket with slicked back, black hair, was handed two consecutive four-year spells in prison, a sexual offences prevention order and placed on the sex offender’s register for life.

He showed no reaction or emotion as he received his punishment and left the court.