January 2014

‘Dangerous’ paedophile jailed for 9 years

A judge jailed a “dangerous” paedophile for nine years today to protect the public after he admitted raping a vulnerable child during grooming sessions at his home.

Convicted sex beast Graham Clarke (52) pleaded guilty to oral rape, two counts of indecent assault and two of sexual assault on the girl who was aged between 10 and 11 when the offences were committed in Glengormley, Co Antrim.

The court heard Clarke groomed his victim by buying her JLS T-shirts, videos and plied her with cups of hot chocolate.

Prosecuting counsel Amanda Brady told Belfast Crown Court that the victim was knocked down in 2007 and sustained a brain injury which had left her vulnerable as a result and now suffers from seizures.

Deputy Belfast Recorder Judge Corinne Philpott QC was told that in 2009 the girl and her mother moved into rented accommodation in the area where Clarke was living.

However, it wasn’t until a year later when the pair moved to hostel accommodation that the sexual offences came to light.

The court heard the mother was informed by the child’s social worker that her daughter had told a friend: “He was doing things to me….he was touching my woman.”

The victim, who is now aged 15, told the friend that he was indecently touching her underneath her clothing. “She said that she swotted his hand away when he was doing this.”

Ms Brady told the court that the mother told police how she had got to know Clarke. “I felt sorry for him, he seemed lonely and had no family visiting him and I wondered why that was.”

The judge heard that they started to visit each other’s homes on a regular basis.

“In fact, they spent two Christmas’s together. She would way say that she would have a drink at the defendant’s house and he would do the same at her house,” said the crown lawyer.

“Her daughter accompanied her to the defendant’s house and they would watch television together. He would have spent a lot of time with her daughter.

“On some occasions she would have let daughter stay in his house as she didn’t want to wake her up and take her back home when she fell asleep.”

However, the lawyer said that after a while the mother found “his behaviour a bit odd. On one occasison she saw him staring out of his window at her.

“Her daughter refused to go back to the house. She asked her daughter had he done anything to her and her daughter said nothing had happened.”

However, after she was informed by the social worker of the sexual abuse, the mother confronted Clarke about what her daughter had said.

Added Ms Brady: “When she asked him did he touch her daughter, he nodded ‘yes’. The mother told police: ‘He started to shake and was crying. He admitted touching her breasts.

“He told her that he had done this before and had been on the sex offenders’ register but was not on it anymore. He also said that he had spent time in jail for sexually assaulting girls.”

The court heard that Clarke had two previous convictions for sex crimes, the last being in June, 2001 when he was jailed for two years at Downpatick Crown Court for indecently assaulting four girls.

The prosecution lawyer told the court that during video interview with PSNI detectives, the victim said: “He did touch me. He did sexually assault me. He touched me in places he should not have touched me. He tried to make me do stuff that I didn’t want to do.”

Ms Brady added: “After that she fled the room and that was all they (the police) could get.”

Clarke was later arrested and during “lenghty and thorough interviews” he admitted touching the young girl.

The court heard that when asked by detectives how often the sexual assaults took place, Clarke replied: “Every time she stayed over in my house.”

It was only after further questioning that Clark admitted the oral of the rape of the girl, saying he woke up to find the girl on top of him. He said the rape lasted “between five and ten minutes”.

The prosecution barrister said a victim impact report carried out by a clinicial psychologist revealed that the teenager was now suffering from depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The report’s author added: “She will need theraputic services for the rest of her life.”

Ms Brady said there was clearly grooming by Clarke as he had bought his victim a JLS T-shirt, DVDs and made her hot chocolate drinks when she came to his home.

She told Judge Philpott that the aggravating features were that the girl was “vulnerable, her age at the time of the offence, and she did have a brain injury. He has done this before to other families. This is the third time he has come before the court for these type of offences.”

A defence barrister told the court: “There is very little I can say by way of mitigation in this case. He is now 52 and it is not the first time he has come before the court for this type of offending.

“He accepts full responsibility for his actions.”

Judge Philpott QC said the victim of Clarke’s crime was now under the care system in Northern Ireland and is currently in hospital being treated for a seizure which doctors believe is brought on by stress.

The judge said that in the victim impact report, the psychologist said that the victim “suffers from flash backs of being held down by him”, along with anxiety and depression as a result of the sex assaults.

A pre-sentence report revealed that Clarke admitted that he had a “propenstity for young female children aged 6-18”, the court heard.

The judge told him: “You have previous convictions for these type of offences. It is the view that you are a danger to the public.”

Judge Philpott said that by way of mitigation, Clarke had admitted to the rape even though his victim had not been able to tell police about it during her sole interview.

The deputy Belfast Recorder said there were elements of grooming in the amount of time Clarke spent with his victim, buying her DVDs, buying her a JLS T-Shirt and making her hot chocolate drinks.

Jailing Clarke for nine years on the charge of rape, Judge Philpott QC said: “It will be up to the parole board whether you are safe to be released back into the general public.”

He was given concurrent sentences of three years and four years respectively for the indecent assaults and sexual assaults.

The judge ordered him to attend a sex offenders programme in prison to ensure “that you will not re-offend”.

He was put on the sex offenders’ register for an indefinite period and also banned from having any contact with children under the age of 16 or vulnerable adults.

On his release from prison, he has been ordered to stay at an address approved by the Probation Service.

Clarke was also banned from going to playgrounds, beaches and family-orientated restaurants.