April 2023

Cheltenham paedophile sentenced to 16 years after abusing two young boys

A 46-year-old Cheltenham man shouted at a judge after he was sentenced to sixteen years for sexually abusing two young boys over a ten year period.

Craig Sykes of Cromwell Road, Oakley, Cheltenham, who denied interfering with the boys in any way, was found guilty by a jury last month of six offences. He was cleared of two other charges after a five-day trial.

The charges on which the jury found him guilty were: sexual assault of a child under 13; two offences of causing a child to engage in sexual activity; oral rape of a child; indecent assault of a child aged 13, and child cruelty by wilfully assaulting a boy between 1995 and 2005.

As the Judge, Recorder Emma Zeb, was passing sentence on Sykes last week he repeatedly protested his innocence, shouting ‘It never happened’ and ‘Don’t do this to me, I’ll lose everything.’

The hearing also had to be temporarily adjourned to allow Sykes to be sick away from the courtroom after he began retching in the dock.

The court was told the victims were aged 11 and 13 when Sykes first assaulted them and the offences had then gone on undetected for some years. Both boys did not report the assaults for fear of embarrassment and shame. One of the victims also feared violent reprisals.

Recorder Zeb explained that Sykes’ behaviour only came to light in 2020 when he was interviewed by police following a victim telling his mother what had happened.

Recorder Zeb told Sykes: “You took one of the victims to your parents’ home when they were not around. The victim has vivid memories of the occasion when you pulled his trousers down and engaged in oral sex. He recalls you asking if he was enjoying it. The victim recalls that the experience lasting for five minutes and that you had enjoyed it yourself.

“This victim did not report the assault because he was scared you would beat him up as he alleges that you had done since he was attending primary school.

“In my judgement you preyed on his vulnerability and administered verbal abuse and physical beatings which only stopped when he got older and was able to fight back. It was while your victim was embarking on a military career that the allegations came to light.

“The court has heard from your other victim in a statement in which he reveals he is now uncomfortable being around children because of the abuse you put him through.

“His visits to your home provided you with an opportunity to act out your sexual desires and in particular one weekend in which you subjected him to sexual abuse on four occasions.

“One of these was when you were delivering food for a local takeaway restaurant and you instructed him to sit on your lap and proceeded to stroke his leg and crotch prior to performing oral sex on him.

“Later that same evening you drove to a remote location and again indulged in oral sex. This was followed by you orally raping him. He was only 11 years of age and you told him this was not being gay. You explained that you were preparing him for having a girlfriend.”

It was at this point that Sykes began to rant, telling the judge that it didn’t happen this way and insisting that the evidence against him was all wrong.

The judge warned Sykes to be quiet as she continued “The following day you were again alone together and committed further sexual offences against your victim.

“While he was sat on the sofa you took the opportunity to sexually abuse him by putting his genitals into your mouth. This was an echo of what you did to your other victim at your parents’ house years before. “

The court was told that Sykes’ mobile phones were seized by the police and after analysis they revealed internet searches in 2015 and 2016 for images of very young boys.

“These searches in my judgment are the sort of activity in which you indulge in,” said the judge.

“You denied your offending during a number of police interviews and forced two men to relive their childhood experiences as part of this court process.”

The court could then visibly see and hear Sykes retching in the dock. After a brief consultation by the judge with his lawyer, Sykes was taken down to the cells to be sick out of the courtroom.

After a break of 15 minutes the hearing resumed with Recorder Zeb explaining that there was no pre-sentence report as one had not been requested due to a custodial sentence being the inevitable outcome.

Recorder Zeb continued: “In mitigation, your barrister pointed out that in overseeing the lives of other children you helped keep them on the straight and narrow. It is to your credit, that since these matters came to light you have been in full time work. However, that is about to change.

“I reject the suggestion that these incidents were isolated as some planning was involved. In reality there is little mitigation that can be offered to reduce your sentence. You have no previous convictions of a sexual nature. The most serious of your offences is the rape of a child and for sentencing purposes that is the lead offence.

“You even attempted to blame one of your victims for being antagonistic during a violent incident. “

The judge sentenced Sykes to a jail term of 16 years and this was further extended by one year on licence, which means he could be recalled to prison anytime until April 2040. Sykes was also told that he wouldn’t be considered for parole until he had served at least two thirds of his sentence.

Sykes’ reaction to this was: “How long? That’s too long. Oh, come on” No, no, I’ve lost everything. No, I wont be quiet.”

Sykes was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life and subjected to the terms to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, which includes being prohibited from being in the company of children under the age of 18, without permission, and limiting his use of the internet. Sykes was also ordered to pay a mandatory surcharge.