June 2002

Sex attack pensioner is spared jail term

A 76-YEAR-OLD man who sexually assaulted a young girl was spared jail yesterday.

Mark Jefferson had his 18- month jail term suspended for two years at Teesside Crown Court after he admitted four charges of indecent assault.

Catherine Fagan, prosecuting, said Jefferson had committed the offences between February 3, last year, and February 3, this year.

She said Jefferson, of The Square, in East Cowton, between Darlington and Northallerton, North Yorkshire, had twice inappropriately touched the girl through her clothing, and twice under her clothing. All the offences occurred in his greenhouse.

Married Jefferson was interviewed by police and admitted the four offences, she said. Miss Fagan added Jefferson had no previous convictions.

David Lamb, for the pensioner, said his client had been married for 42 years. He said Jefferson was in poor heath with heart problems, and had suffered a series of strokes.

His wife too, Mr Lamb said, had recently suffered a serious stroke.

In the past, he said, the pensioner had been of “exemplary character”.

Judge Les Spittle said that he took the case seriously but thought the public would be better served by ensuring Jefferson did not commit such a crime again, rather than jailing him for a short time.

The sentence included a two-year supervision order and Jefferson was placed on the sex offenders register for ten years.

Judge Spittle said: “Let no court see you again, nor any child suffer at your hands.”