December 2009

Barnstaple pensioner jailed for sexual abuse

PENSIONER Brian Martin came to court well-prepared when he was jailed for four years for abusing a young girl.

The 71-year-old, of Beechwood Avenue, Barnstaple, walked into the courtroom carrying a large suitcase, for sentencing by Judge Jeremy Griggs at Exeter Crown Court today.

Martin had been found guilty of seven out of eight sexual offences, involving a girl under ten years old in the 1990s in North Devon, in a trial earlier this year.

He collapsed as he stood to be sentenced and was told to sit down by Judge Griggs.

The judge told him: “The jury have found you have a secret. You were over a period of time, for three years, committing offences against the complainant.

“You know the court has no option other than to pronounce an immediate custodial term.”

He added: “You have a large number of character references. That’s why I refer to you having a secret. Many people were wholly surprised (by the allegations).”

Martin, who has no criminal record, had denied three offences of indecency with a child and five of indecent assault.

He was acquitted of one offence, which was an alleged indecent assault, at the trial at the crown court in October.

Martin had molested the girl, from the Barnstaple area, when he was alone with her on various occasions.

She described it as distressing and told the court how she would focus on other events, such as her forthcoming birthday, to take her mind off what was happening. The victim, who is now an adult, reported it to police last year.

The defendant, giving evidence, denied ever molesting the girl, claimed to have never been alone in her company, and accused her of behaving and speaking in a sexually inappropriate way.

But a male witness who knew the girl gave evidence that she would not have spoken in that way and he described her as becoming increasing reluctant to go to places where she was likely to encounter Martin, as she grew older.

Defence counsel Richard Crabb, at sentencing, said Martin still insisted he was innocent and his family had suffered nuisance telephone calls as a result of the publicity about the case.

He said Martin was in poor health, was a carer for his wife, and he had lost sleep and suffered sleepless nights, worrying about prison.

“He attends here with considerable dignity today, resigned to the inevitable outcome,” said Mr Crabb.

“Apart form these offences, he has led an honest, exemplary life.”

Judge Griggs refused prosecutor Mary McCarthy’s application to impose a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

She said: “The Crown would say those restrictions are necessary to prevent the commission of further offences of this type.”

The judge said it was unnecessary, due to the defendant’s age, his many character references and because the offences happened many years ago.

He told Martin that he must put his details on the Sex Offender Register for the rest of his life.