January 2009

Paedophile groomed girl, 12, on church trips

A PAEDOPHILE who abused a schoolgirl he met at church has been locked up and will have to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.

David Shakespeare molested the 12-year-old, who he was “infatuated” with, on numerous occasions over three years.

The 44-year-old subjected the girl to vile abuse, but held back from having full sex with her for “religious reasons”.

Shakespeare, of Alverthorpe Street, South Shields, admitted seven charges of indecent assault.

Newcastle Crown Court yesterday heard how Shakespeare, who has no previous convictions, met the girl at a church in South Tyneside while he was still living with his parents in Sunderland.

The first time he molested her was during a church trip, and he continued the abuse when she visited him at his flat when he moved to South Shields.

The court heard he would tell the girl what was happening was “normal and right”.

The offences came to light when the victim, who is from South Tyneside, found the courage to speak to her family about her ordeal, which happened more than 10 years ago.

Judge Beatrice Bolton jailed Shakespeare for four years.

The judge said: “You exploited a very young, little girl who probably had a childish crush on you.

“Anyone with a sense of humanity knows that when little girls for that sort of crush on an older boy or man they are not to be exploited.

“You did everything to her over the years, everything except have sex with her.

“You did not have full sex with her as a result of your religious beliefs. Whether at the time you thought that was exercising some sort of morality I do not know.

“The end product of all this is a severely damaged young woman.

“She is left feeling dirty and ashamed as a result of your exploitation of her.

“This was one victim, but to her whether it was one or 21 does not matter – you damaged her and you damaged her severely.”

The judge said she hoped the victim, who was in court to see the prison sentence passed, could find a way to move on with her life.

Julian Smith, defending, said Shakespeare’s co-operation with the police and guilty pleas saved the victim from having to re-live her ordeal in the witness box.

Mr Smith said Shakespeare was infatuated with the girl but has never acted inappropriately towards any other children.

Mr Smith said: “There is a naivety and immaturity about him. There are flaws in this man, gaps in his character.

“That does not excuse what he has done and he understands the consequences of it.

“There is honest contrition here and on a personal level there is genuine shame.”

Shakespeare must sign the sex offenders’ register for life and has been banned from ever working with children.

He was also given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans him from having any deliberate contact with children for 10 years.