June 2020

Married paedophile jailed for 27 years after subjecting girl, 10, to years of rape and sexual abuse

A married paedophile has been jailed for 27 years after submitting a 10-year-old girl to years of rape and sexual assault.

Landscape gardener Eduardo Cruz, 37, of London manipulated himself into a position of power by befriending the girl’s parents and buying the victim gifts and taking her on day trips.

Cruz even persuaded the victim to send him naked photographs of herself while she was on a family holiday in Florida.

In a statement the victim, now 18, said: ‘At the time, I felt I could not speak to anyone. This made me feel more alone and I lost friends because of it. I also remember I had a very strained relationship with my parents who told me not to spend so much time with him and his family.

‘I remember my self-esteem was very low, I thought I was a slag because of what I was doing with him. When I was 13 I started having nightmares about what had happened.

‘In the nightmares he would do to me what he had done in real life, the only difference was that the nightmares were more violent. There was a period of time when I was scared of seeing his car.

‘The abuse has made me very sad, my dad made me see the doctor because I was crying all the time. The reason I self-harm is because I feel numb and it is easier to see blood than it is to think about things I do not want to think about. It has made it impossible to trust anyone.

‘I think what has happened has affected me at school, it makes it very difficult to concentrate on my work no matter what I am doing. He has taken a lot of my childhood away, I do not think I will ever forgive him.’

Cruz held so much power over the victim that she did not disclose her experiences even after a child abduction order had been put in place.

The truth only came to light in 2017 after the victim’s father found a letter she had written explaining the abuse she had suffered.

Judge Heather Norton, sitting at Reading Crown Court, said: ‘The victim was aged between 10 and 15 years throughout the abuse. You lived close to her grandmother.

‘You brought her gifts and took her on days out when, in reality, you were grooming her. You befriended her parents who had no concerns, they thought it was natural, they trusted you.

‘You and she would spend long periods in the car before she got out. What was happening in that car was sexual activity and rape. It started when she was aged 10 or 11 years old. You told her how she was special and cared for her before touching her.

‘She thought it was wrong but you told her you loved her and this went on for two years. When she was 13 you told her she was ready to have sex. She wanted to make you happy so she said she would try. She asked for forgiveness every week at church.

‘Over the course of 10 months you told her people would think she was a slag and you told her you loved her and she loved you. Even when she went on holiday you told her to send nudes photos of herself.

‘Your wife, the school, even her parents started to realise there was something going on, that the relationship was unhealthy and the contact was excessive. It was stopped when you were served with a child abduction notice. 

‘I want to make it clear to her and her parents that what happened was not in any way, shape or form, their fault. She was a child who trusted you, the blame for all that happened rests on you and you alone. 

‘You conducted a grooming campaign and your offences have had a lasting psychological effect on the victim. I am in no doubt that you present a high risk to children of all ages, you are a dangerous offender.’

Defending Cruz, counsel Ed Butler said: ‘This is a man who knows he is going to be spending a long time in prison after an appalling series of offences against a single individual. This is someone who came to the UK 14 years ago with his wife against a backdrop of significant adversity.

‘He is a landscape gardener who set up his own business both in the UK and abroad. He is also the prison librarian on his wing as he waits on remand. Whatever this man did and however awful it was, he is not universally wicked and universally irredeemable.’

Judge Norton sentenced Cruz to 22 years imprisonment with a five-year extended period on licence alongside a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to last for life and a restraining order.