November 2016

Churchgoer jailed for child abuse but told by judge: ‘You’re not classic paedophile’

ebbs

Baptist churchgoer Philip Ebbs who sexually molested two young girls was jailed for four years today by a judge who said he did not regard him as a classic paedophile.

Father-of-three Ebbs, 73, smartly dressed in blazer and tie, was convicted by a jury at Gloucester Crown Court of groping the girls while giving them ‘massages.’

Passing sentence today on Ebbs, of Main Road, Berkeley, Judge Jamie Tabor QC told him: “I don’t believe you are a paedophile in the commonly accepted sense of the word.

“Frankly you have shown very little remorse,” said Judge Tabor. “It is quite apparent to me that the stress caused to those two children has been very considerable and caused them huge anxiety.”

“I believe that what happened here was that when the situation presented itself you could not resist the temptation of putting your hands where you shouldn’t.

“That is very different to a paedophile who seeks out children and abuses them.”

The judge said that because Ebbs had pleaded not guilty to the four charges against him he could not receive any deduction from the prescribed sentences for his offences.

“Frankly you have shown very little remorse,” said Judge Tabor. “It is quite apparent to me that the stress caused to those two children has been very considerable and caused them huge anxiety.”

Ebbs told the court during his trial that he had given both girls massages but had not touched them inappropriately in any way.

The prosecution said that the first of Ebbs’ victims kept quiet for years about the sexual abuse she had suffered at Ebbs’ hands.

But when she heard that another girl had complained about Ebbs assaulting her sexually she reported what he had done to her years earlier.

Ebbs was then charged with four offences of sexual assault between 2007 and 2014.

The jury unanimously found him guilty of all offences.

Mr Kesner told the jury that the second victim had thought it ‘a bit odd’ that Ebbs would stroke her legs and feet openly in front of other people when they met.

“He did that to a lot of people,” Mr Kesner said. “She didn’t like it and she would make her excuses to avoid him massaging her.”

But one day the girl was home alone from school feeling unwell and Ebbs turned up at the door, Mr Kesner said.

Ebbs sat down on the sofa at the girl’s home and watched TV with her – asking her to put her head on his lap.

“I didn’t want to go through the court process but it was the only thing I could do to get justice for what he did. I now don’t like any physical contact like people hugging me. Tickling is banned in our house now as it makes me feel really uncomfortable and sick.”

“She did as she was told. He started stroking and massaging her back. But he didn’t stop there. His hand moved under her clothing. She didn’t say anything. His hand then progressed under her clothing to the side of her breast.

“She said his hand then properly went around it. At that point she got up and moved away, making her excuses. She went up to her bedroom and had no further contact with him.”

At that stage the girl did not tell anyone but later she spoke to a church youth leader and explained what had happened, Mr Kesner said.

As a result the girl’s mother was told. Word spread to the father of the other girl and he asked his daughter if anything untoward had ever happened to her.

She then revealed that years earlier Ebbs had ‘tickled and massaged her arms and legs and that it didn’t stop there,’ Mr Kesner said.

Ebbs had moved his hand inside her clothing and rubbed her breasts and private parts, he said. This victim was under 10.

“When it happened she was too young, she said, to appreciate that what he was doing was wrong. But as she got older she realised it was wrong. She didn’t say anything but decided to keep her distance from him.

“It was not her intention to tell anyone and she was going to let it go.”

Today Mr Kesner read victim impact statements from the two girls to the court. Both said the stress of waiting for this week’s trial had disrupted their school studies.

One girl said: “I now feel insecure around older people and I get quite worried around people who look like him because they make me fearful and uncomfortable. I feel down and in low mood.”

The other girl said: “I didn’t want to go through the court process but it was the only thing I could do to get justice for what he did. I now don’t like any physical contact like people hugging me. Tickling is banned in our house now as it makes me feel really uncomfortable and sick.”