Febuary 2011

Leonard Wood jailed for sex assault on teenager

A MIDDLE-AGED man who abused a teenage girl has been jailed for more than seven years.

Leonard Wood, 52, is said to have treated the youngster like his girlfriend and coerced her into not revealing their secret.

The married family man, from Great Ayton, near Middlesbrough, was arrested in October after the girl told relatives about what was happening.

Wood confessed to most of the allegations during police questioning, but said the teenager was lying about some statements.

He admitted charges of rape, sexual assault and causing a person to engage in sexual activity.

Judge Howard Crowson jailed the gardener for seven years and four months and banned him from working with children for life.

He was also ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for life and banned from having unsupervised contact with under-18s.

Teesside Crown Court heard that Wood regretted his actions. His barrister, Adrian Dent, said: “All he is left with is deep shame and the hope he has not done too much damage to the girl.

“He accepts that he has behaved in a depraved way and he is profoundly sorry for what he has done and apologises.”

Judge Crowson told Wood, of Central Way: “I acknowledge that you are genuinely sorry.

“You have been given substantial credit for ensuring the girl did not have to give evidence and worry that people might not believe her.”

David Brooke, prosecuting, told the court that when police knocked at Wood’s door to arrest him, he said: “I know why you’ve come.”

Mr Dent said Wood expected his wife to divorce him and that he was unlikely to have a home when released.

Mr Dent said: “He knows his marriage will not survive.

He knows whatever form his sentence takes, it is not going to be the end of his punishment.

“This is a man who, at 52, has been transformed from being a respectable family man with no previous convictions and with a good work record.”