February 2023

Jail for Tyneside man guilty of sex abuse in Oxfordshire

A predatory paedophile who preyed upon a reception-age girl said his abuse was so frequent that it was starting to feel ‘normal’ to her.

That little girl – now a woman with children of her own – returned to Oxford Crown Court on Friday to face abuser Martyn Spence, as she had done during the trial.

Reading her victim impact statement from the witness box, the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said the abuse she suffered as a five or six year old child had ‘affected my entire life’ and particularly her romantic relationships.

“I genuinely think that men just want one thing and that they only care about sex,” she said.

She added: “I have no trust in men in relation to my two daughters.” The woman said she could ‘never feel relaxed’ and had a ‘constant feeling that I need to check on them’.

The defendant’s abuse carried on over around two years when he was in his 20s.

It began with what Judge Nigel Daly labelled ‘inappropriate kissing’ but moved on to serious sexual assaults. He would get the girl to perform sex acts on him and he also molested her in her bedroom.

Some of the assaults were carried out in a south Oxfordshire village, while others happened elsewhere in England.

Sentencing, the judge told Spence, now 47: “The extent of the behaviour may be reflected in the account given by your victim. She said in interview: ‘It was starting to [seem] normal.’ She would have been about six at the time.”

Spence, of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, was found guilty by jurors at Oxford Crown Court earlier this year of indecent assault on and gross indecency with a girl under-14. On Friday, the court heard that he continued to profess his innocence.

The offences were from an old law no longer on the statute book and, at the time, one carried a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and the other a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Had the offences been committed more recently and Spence charged under the new laws, his offending would carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Judge Daly said his hands were tied by the maximum sentences available at the time.

Had he been sentencing Spence for offending charged under the new laws, he would have imposed jail terms of nine years and 12 years – compared to the maximum sentence of two years and 10 years respectively for the old offences.

However, the judge achieved the same outcome by imposing the maximum punishment the old laws allowed; giving Spence two years for gross indecency and 10 years for indecent assault, ordering the sentences to be served after another and making a total jail term of 12 years.

Spence must serve two thirds of the prison sentence before he is eligible for release. He will be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order preventing him from having contact with girls under-16 for life and he will remain on the sex offender’s register indefinitely.