June 2009

A FORMER Conservative councillor who became “infatuated” with a 13-year-old girl and sexually assaulted her has been jailed for eight years.

David Kirton, (55), of Longbanks, Harlow, admitted committing three sexual offences on the girl during an eight month period.

Kirton, who won his seat in the Staple Tye ward at the local elections in May last year, sent texts and spoke to her on MSN telling her among other things: “Babe – you’re a gorgeous woman.”

Judge Rodger Hayward Smith, told Kirton as he jailed him at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday (Monday, June 8) and put him on the sex offenders register for life: “You must have known this was wholly wrong.” 

The judge, who also banned Kirton from working with children for life and imposed a sex prevention order, added: “Your offences are aggravated by the disparity in your ages.”

Prosecuting counsel, Chris Paxton told the court the offences were committed between February 1 and October 6 last year after Kirton had initially greeted the girl, who or legal reasons cannot be named, with a “kiss on the cheek.”

He went on to replace this with a “kiss on the head, kissing her on the lips and, on occasions, with a wink and telling her how pretty she was.

Mr Paxton continued: “He began texting and speaking on MSN during which he’d say things like: ‘I’m missing you.’

It was said that around February 2008 he told her he loved her. The first act of sexual assault happened while at his house when his partner was out.

Finally, on October 6 she claimed to have been going out bowling but, Kirton picked her up and returned to his house where he again sexually assaulted her. 

Mr Paxton said that Kirton’s partner had become suspicious after seeing some messages sent including one from him saying: “I cannot stop thinking about you.” She then contacted the girl’s parents.

When questioned about what had been going on the girl had said that they had not had “full blown sex” said Mr Paxton. He said that soon after that police were contacted a few days later and Kirton gave himself up to them.

When he went to Harlow Police Station on October 12, 2008, he had said: “I am disappointed in myself,” and “You know me, I am sorry.”

The girl had been “snappy and argumentative” during the period of the offences but had “settled down” afterwards, said Mr Paxton.

He added that she had been “tearful and upset when discussing it.”

Martyn Levett QC, in mitigation for Kirton, said pictures and messages were sent from the girl’s computer to him and he had not “bullied or threatened her into this particular activity.”

He said that when she told Kirton she didn’t want him to carry out the sexual activity, he stopped.

Mr Levett added: “She was an affectionate girl – she hugged and kissed the defendant – and he became infatuated with her.”

He said Kirton apologised for what took place.