July 2022

Co Down pensioner handed six-year sentence for sexually assaulting a vulnerable woman and a teenage girl

A perverted pensioner who sexually assaulted two victims — a woman and a teenage girl — was handed a six-year sentence today.

Sentencing Sean Small at Newry Crown Court, Judge Gordon Kerr QC told the 79-year-old that although he was taking a starting point of 14 years, he was giving him discount for his guilty pleas, clear record, “the totality principle” and the medical evidence that prison “will be more onerous” on him compared to other inmates.

Small, who limped off to the cells with the aid of a walking stick, was told he will spend three years in jail and three under supervised licence conditions, with an order that he has to sign the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.

At an earlier hearing, widower Small, from Slievenabrock Avenue in Newcastle, confessed to a total of 10 sex offences committed against two victims on various dates between September 30, 2016, and April 2, 2018.

In relation to the first victim, a teenage girl, Small admitted five charges including sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sex activity and sexual assault by penetration, with the court hearing how the pensioner touched her inappropriately on an almost weekly basis for nine months.

The inviting charges, said Judge Kerr, was when Small “offered to pay her £85 to have sex with him” and even though she refused, he advised her “to think about it”.

The second victim, an adult but a vulnerable woman, was also subjected to inappropriate touching when Small had been at her home doing gardening work.

“It’s perfectly clear that the behaviour has had serious consequences for the victims,” said Judge Kerr, revealing that both suffered from PTSD as a result.

The consequences were to be taken as an aggravating factor, as was the vulnerability of each victim and the fact there were two victims who suffered “repeated offending”.

Judge Kerr said he had “a duty to consider consecutive sentences” and, while he was satisfied, it would be “entirely proper” to do so having regard to principles of totality and mitigating features.

While Small had entered guilty pleas, Judge Kerr said there was an “element of victim blaming” by the paedophile, who had also shown “limited insight” into the consequences.

Another feature to be taken into consideration was that “unsurprisingly, the defendant isn’t in the best of health” and there was clear medical evidence that he is an increased risk of stroke.

Judge Kerr said, while he accepted there was legal authority that serious ill health allowed a judge to take a merciful approach, Small still had to go to jail