May 2022

Darwen yoga teacher, 65, was ‘obsessed’ with 13-year-old

A vile paedophile who was ‘obsessed’ with a 13-year-old girl took her to a closed beauty parlour before giving her a full body massage and molesting her.

Phillip Bannister, 65 also gave the girl ‘inappropriate’ clothes and got her to take part in a photoshoot, capturing her posing and pouting.

Sentencing him, Judge Guy Mathieson said that Bannister had, in his mind, become ‘obsessed’ with his victim 

Prosecuting, David Traynor said Bannister had driven to a beauty parlour that he had access to outside of business hours with his victim.

He said: “Once in there the defendant asked her is she wanted a foot massage and she agreed. That massage took place in a recliner massage chair.

“The defendant initially massaged her feet but then he moved her legs in order for him to massage her legs.”

During later police interviews, the girl told officers that the defendant massaged her upper and lower legs before asking if he could do her back too – she agreed and rolled onto her front.

Bannister then asked her to unclip her bra before asking her to go back onto her back so he could massage her front.

Mr Traynor said: “The defendant initially massaged her stomach but then moved his hands under he unclipped bra so that he was massaging her breasts.”

Later while talking to officers the girl said that it had made her feel uncomfortable and she didn’t know why he had done it.

Mr Traynor went on to say that there were no further incidents of touching, but said images with ‘sexual elements’ had been found of the victim dressed in ‘inappropriate’ clothing.

Some time later the victim confided in a friend about what had happened and her family and then the police were informed.

Dealing with Bannister, of Darwen, Judge Mathieson said: “You are a 65-year-old man with no previous convictions – someone people are prepared to provide supportive and praiseworthy references for. It might be said that you are a pillar of your local community, but you have pleaded guilty to acting sexually towards a 13-year-old girl.”

He added: “She may have viewed those dressing up and photos as innocent and fun, but they had the ulterior motive for you to be the exact opposite, egging her on to pose and pout for you own sexual gratification.

“The suggestion that the trip to the spa was that you were taking her there for an innocent reason, I wholly reject.

“That trip was engineered by you in order to get her alone in a space where you, if you were brave enough, could take advantage of her.”

Bannister was jailed for 20 months, suspended for two years and he must undertake 50 rehabilitation requirement days.

He will also now be the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

Just before he left the dock, Judge Mathieson said to Bannister: “There will be no second chance. Understand that and spend the rest of your days making up for what was an appalling bit of conduct.

“Don’t let me see you again.”