December 2006


THE parents of two teenage girls molested by a pensioner have hit out after he was spared jail.

Kenneth Thompson, 71, was arrested after a 13-year-old told police she had been abused during a visit to his home in August.

When interviewed, he admitted indecently assaulting the youngster while his wife was away, as well as molesting another girl of 14 in the late 1990s.

Thompson, of John Williamson Street, South Shields, pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.

He was given a three-year community order, with the requirement to participate in a sex offender group work programme. He was also banned from having lone contact with anyone under 16, and he must register as a sex offender for five years.

The father of his first victim believes he should have been jailed for at least six months.

“I would have preferred him to get a custodial sentence to reflect the severity of what he’s done,” he said.

“I think they have let him off lightly because of his age.”

The mother of his most recent victim agreed, saying: “I’m absolutely disgusted. He’s more or less walked free because of his age.”

She added: “My daughter has not taken much heart from the sentence.

“She wants to know what will happen if she sees him walking around town. I have told her just to walk away.”

The court heard her daughter has been badly affected by her ordeal.

Prosecutor Tony Glover said: “Her mother says she has lost trust in people generally, particularly men.

“She has changed from a girl who was described as happy and good natured and now manifests a good deal of anger.”

Thompson’s first victim, now 21 and at university, had managed to put the incident behind her, but the court case has resurrected old feelings.

Probation reports indicated Thompson poses a low risk of reoffending.

Judge John Evans told him: “Having regard to the nature of these offences, it is open to the court to impose an immediate sentence of imprisonment.

“Were I to do so, it would be an extremely short one, and that would result in you being released in a very short time.

“You would be back in the community with your distorted thinking not yet addressed.”