April 2023

A man who subjected a ten-year-old girl to repeated sexual abuse has been jailed following an investigation by specialist safeguarding officers in Leeds.

Eric Sawyer, aged 55, of Sissons Grove, Middleton, was investigated by officers from Leeds District Safeguarding Unit after the victim came forward as an adult to report the incidents that occurred in the late nineties and early 2000s.

When he was arrested and interviewed in 2021, he denied the offences.

His electronic devices were seized and downloaded and an image of extreme pornography was discovered – an offence he later admitted at court.

He was also charged with child sex offences but pleaded not guilty.

The court was told that the victim was ordered to say nothing by Sawyer, but she did write her experiences in a journal, but he then “humiliated her” by making her read the entries out, before taking it from her.

Following a following a trial at Leeds Crown Court that concluded in February, he was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and one of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child under 13.

The victim was able to give her evidence in the trial via pre-recorded cross examination under special measures available to vulnerable victims as part of work to support her through the court process 

Sawyer was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with an extended licence period of one year.

An emotional impact statement written by his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was read out by prosecutor Philip Morley.

It read: “I can finally put this behind me for good. You made me promise not tell anybody about what you were doing to me.

“You, being a fully-grown man took full advantage of my vulnerabilities as a child. You knew it was wrong but you carried on having your fun.

“I have managed to bury many traumatic memories but they have had such a negative knock-on effect on my life. You stole my childhood away from me because you wanted to have some fun.

“I’m ashamed and embarrassed to even talk about my childhood. I wish I had been strong enough to say something.”