May 2010

Pervert ‘robbed girl of her childhood’

A youth club leader who carried out a series of sex assaults on a young teenage girl has been jailed for three and a half years.

Henry Cordwell committed the offences in the mid 1990s and they began when the girl was just 12 years old.

Cordwell, who is also known as Harry Cordwell, would intimately touch and fondle the youngster on occasions when he found himself alone with her at the youth club in North Bedfordshire.

At Luton Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Barbara Mensah told the 49-year-old father of three he had robbed his victim of her childhood.

The victim, who is now in her late twenties, had, the court heard, found it possible to forgive Cordwell for what he had done to her all those years ago.

In a victim impact statement before the court, she said she was now looking forward to the future and ‘putting her mind back in order’.

Cordwell, of Holly Close, Crown Hill, Milton Keynes, appeared for sentence having earlier admitted indecently assaulting the girl during 1995 and 1996.

He also appeared for sentence for a further offence of indecently assaulting her and an offence of gross indecency with her, having been found guilty of those offences at the end of a trial in February of this year.

The court heard the offences had been committed at a time when Cordwell’s marriage had been in trouble.

He had been involved with youth club work and it was at the club that he got to know the victim.

Julia Flannagan, defending, said Cordwell had come to rely on the youngster for ‘emotional support’ despite the fact that she was far too young.

The barrister said that as a result of his offending, he had given up youth work, his marriage had come to an end and he had lost his job. 

The court was told he had since re-married and now, with his second wife, had three young children, with the youngest just six weeks old and the oldest child just two.

It was in 2007 that his victim eventually came forward to tell police what had happened all those years before.

Miss Flannagan said: “He is so sorry for his behaviour.” She said Cordwell had been suffering from depression and nightmares and had been living as a virtual recluse until he met the woman who was to become his second wife.

Passing sentence, the judge told Cordwell: “You took advantage as a leader of a youth club so that you were in a position not accountable to anyone.” 

The judge said he had taken advantage of the girl and advantage of her vulnerability and innocence, telling him: “You robbed her of her childhood.” 

She said his name will go on the Sex Offenders’ Register for an indefinite period and also made him the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which restricts him having unsupervised access to children under the age of 16.