May 2008

Paedophile jailed

A PAEDOPHILE who sexually abused children as young as five during the 1960s and ’70s has finally been jailed after a Teesside detective tracked down a key witness.

George Preston of Marrick Road, Hartburn, now 76, preyed on two girls and a boy over a 10-year reign of terror from 1963.

One of the victims was so badly haunted by the ordeal, he tried to kill himself, it was revealed at Teesside Crown Court where Preston was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail.

At the hearing, Judge Peter Armstrong commended Detective Constable Francesca Donovan of Cleveland Police’s child protection unit for tracking down a female witness whose evidence proved crucial in convicting Preston.

He also praised her sensitivity in dealing with the case.

Detective Donovan embarked on a search for the vital witness half way through the pensioner’s trial.

She trawled housing and social services records for Norfolk and Suffolk until she found a former partner of one of Preston’s daughters.

The partner was present when the daughter revealed Preston’s depravity to her mother after contact from the victims. The mother died four years ago.

Preston, who worked at B&Q, planned to call his daughter as a witness to deny the disclosure, but she refused to give evidence.

He admitted six charges of indecent assault and one of inciting sexual activity with a child.

Judge Armstrong told Preston that he would have been jailed for nine years if he was a younger man. He was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

The judge said that the effect on the victims was absolutely devastating, and led the male victim to attempted suicide.

He added: “A pre-sentence report indicates that you show no remorse and have no insight into the effect of your offending on your victims. You only pleaded guilty at the very last moment after they had given evidence and been cross-examined.

“You had given evidence. It was only through smart detective work by the officer in the case who traced a woman witness that completely undermined your defence and prevented your daughter Janet from giving perjured evidence.

“It has had the effect that at least your victims have seen you admit in public for the first time all you did to them. But before that, your behaviour was clearly in contrast to the dignity and bravery they showed.”

Judge Armstrong said he hoped that Preston would read the victim impact statements.

James Robinson, defending, said that Preston had masked what had happened during a hard-working life as a soldier, miner and HGV driver before his retirement job at B&Q.