July 2016

‘Extremely high risk’ Blackburn sex offender jailed


A 27-YEAR-OLD man described as an “extremely high risk” sex offender has been jailed for breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Blackburn magistrates heard Michael Graham was found in possession of a Nintendo DS Light which gave him access to the internet without having the capacity for storing the internet history.

Graham, of St Peter Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to breach of the order three weeks after he was released from prison. He was jailed for six months.

Enza Geldard, prosecuting, said Graham had been was jailed for five years in 2010 for detaining two eight- year- old girls without lawful authority and jailed for four years in 2014 for outraging public decency.

Three weeks after his release from the latest sentence, staff at the bail hostel where he was living reported he had possession of a mobile games console. Police found the device was capable of accessing the internet but not of storing the history.

Simon Farnsworth, defending, said his client claimed he had bought the device simply to play games on.

“It is a breach but at the very bottom end,” said Mr Farnsworth. “My submission is that it was a technical breach. There is no suggestion he did anything with the device other than play the games that were in his possession.”

February 2010

A Carlisle man who abducted two young girls from a city park has been jailed for five years – but would have been given an indefinite jail term had it been possible.

The eight-year-olds were said to have been “scared” during their “truly frightful ordeal” at the hands of Michael Graham, 21, at Hammonds Pond, last June.

And Judge Peter Hughes QC, at Carlisle Crown Court, described Graham’s case as “one of the most worrying cases he has had to deal with”.

Judge Hughes said he believed that Graham posed “such a substantial risk of serious harm, particularly to children and young women”, that he would have jailed him indefinitely had the law allowed.

The court heard how the girls’ ordeal began after Graham, of Buchanan Road, Currock, approached them as they played in the nature trail area of the park on June 15 last year.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, said: “He invited them to come and see some dens located within the nature trail. At first the girl said she ignored him, at which point he grabbed hold of their hands, pushed them in front of him and guided them towards the dens.”

Mr Evans said that one of the girls described how, while in one of the dens, Graham had tied some logs to a piece of string and “tied this around the tree to, in effect, create some sort of barrier.”

He said: “She thought that was the intention, to trap them inside. She couldn’t get out and she was scared.” He added that the girls told police that the defendant was “nasty to them” during their ordeal, which involved being forced to hide if anyone came near.

They were eventually found, after about two hours, when a dog walker heard voices in the undergrowth.

Later, one of the girls had told her parents that the man “was not going to let (us) go if that woman had not found us”.

Although Graham was only sentenced on two counts of child abduction, he led five girls, aged between six and 11, into the undergrowth.

He pleaded guilty to the two offences at Carlisle Crown Court last month.

In mitigation, Claire Thomas said her client “enjoys the company of younger people because they don’t bully him” but did now “have some realisation as to how inappropriate his behaviour has been”.

Judge Hughes described Graham as a man “with many and complex problems”.

He said: “The protection of the public and in particular the protection of children and vulnerable young adults is at the forefront of my mind – even though you are young and this is a first conviction.

“So far as the girls that you led into bushes are concerned, this must have been a truly frightful ordeal for them.”

He ordered him to serve five years in prison for each of the two offences, with the sentences to run concurrently to each other.

Judge Hughes also made Graham the subject of an anti-social behaviour order for an indefinite period, preventing him from having unsupervised contact with under-16s – except with permission – and from visiting parks, play areas, school premises, leisure centres and swimming pools.

Detective Constable Lindsey Priestley, from Cumbria Police’s public protection unit, said: “This was an extremely rare case and had a huge impact on the families involved. Each of the young girls has shown great strength and composure throughout and the support given by their families deserves recognition.

“We are very pleased with the outcome.”