April 2005

Man “groomed” girls for sex

A man “groomed” underage girls for sex through his involvement in amateur dramatics groups, a court heard.

Scott Appleton, 32, formed relationships with impressionable girls aged 12 – 15, and in some cases filmed his sexual activity with them.

Durham Crown Court heard some of the sex sessions took place while a girlfriend was out at work, and others at parties held at his home.

When arrested Appleton, who lives in the north Durham area, was found to have downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children from the internet, including 40 in the most serious categories.

He was today jailed for a total of seven-and-a-half years and banned from working with children.

Further restrictions were imposed by Judge Maurice Carr limiting all contact with children for 15 years.

Julie Clemitson, prosecuting, said Appleton befriended girls in amateur drama groups, developing relationships through letters and hundreds of phone calls and text messages, which became increasingly more suggestive.

“He seemed to pick on girls with low self-esteem and befriended them by telling them how pretty they looked.”

Miss Clemitson said Appleton gave three of the girls with whom he had sex teddy bears.

She added that he used no protection with the girls, one of whom had a “pregnancy scare”.

Stephen Rich, mitigating, told the court: “Through me he apologises to all of the people who he feels he has hurt.”

Appleton admitted four charges of indecent assault, three of inciting girls under 13 to commit indecent acts, one of possessing indecent images of children, 15 of making indecent images of a child, plus one of perverting the course of justice.

Jailing him, Judge Maurice Carr told him: “You have shown a propensity to become involved with young females, and in so far as sexual activity is concerned, females of 13, 14 or 15, when you are twice their age.”

Appleton must sign the sex offenders’ register for life.