September 2008

Director sent to jail after sexual abuse of teen girl

PARENTS of a teenage girl sexually abused by a businessman say the 37-year-old has stolen their daughter’s remaining childhood years.

Paul Gleghorn, managing director of Swadlincote firm Gas Care, who groomed the girl before committing a sexual act with her, was yesterday jailed for 16 months.

The victim’s mum made the discovery after reading inappropriate computer messages Gleghorn had sent her daughter via MSN messenger – talking about kissing her and wanting to run away with her.

The girl’s parents told the Evening Telegraph the experience had caused their daughter “immense stress”.

They said: “It is every parent’s nightmare. It’s been horrific. We have gone though a harrowing and stressful time.

“This has exposed our daughter to experiences she need never have gone through.

“As a family, we will support her in re-establishing her sense of security in trusting people and accepting not all adults are to be mistrusted.

“He stole her remaining childhood years.”

Derby Crown Court heard how Gleghorn, of Burton Road, Egginton, had groomed the “quiet” girl, who was known to him, by flattering her.

Clive Stockwell, prosecuting, said: “She has been described as a quiet girl, with low self esteem, lacking in self-confidence. She was a home-girl and had never had a boyfriend.

“The prosecution say the defendant set about the grooming process with this in mind.”

Mr Stockwell said on one occasion, Gleghorn had asked if he could kiss her. She said, ‘no’, and he apologised.

He said: “A day or so later he told her she was beautiful – she was no doubt flattered by this.

“The following day, he kissed her on the lips and asked if she was all right. She said she was. Another day, he touched her thigh in a car and kissed her.”

Mr Stockwell said in April this year he had taken her hand to touch him.

After discovering the messages, the girl’s mother told her husband and called the police.

Gleghorn admitted the offence and confessed to more than the police already knew from the girl’s video interview.

Makhan Stoker, in mitigation, said Gleghorn, who pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child, had no previous convictions.

He said: “I do not seek to blame the girl as Mr Gleghorn should have known better.

“He is thoroughly ashamed. He has shown remorse, regret right from the outset.”

Sentencing Gleghorn, Recorder Nigel Godsmark QC said: “It’s no wonder she became confused – she’s not old enough to manage situations like that. It’s only the vigilance of her parents that nipped this in the bud.”

Gleghorn was put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and told he could never work with children, not seek out company of any girl under the age of 18 and not make any photographs of any girls under the age of 16.