May 2017

Barrow man subjected two girls to harrowing catalogue of sexual abuse

A BARROW man who sexually abused two girls has been found guilty of child cruelty and sex offences.

Darren Clarke, 38, admitted he had been “stupid and daft” but denied any violent or sexual behaviour towards the girls during a trial at Preston Crown Court.

After hearing the harrowing accounts of the girls – who cannot be named for legal reasons – the jury unanimously found Clarke, of Chatsworth Street, Barrow, guilty of 18 counts of sexual assault, cruelty, and inciting the girls to engage in sexual activity.

The youngsters told the court Clarke forced them to watch pornography and exposed his genitals to them.

On several occasions he engaged in sexual activity with them, and would play cruel “pranks”.

When he learnt one of the girls had a boyfriend, he sexually assaulted her and warned her to stay away from him, the court heard.

One of the girls was pushed to the ground in a row over a mobile phone and the other was struck by a phone when Clarke threw it across the room in anger.

At the time of the offences, Clarke was drinking up to eight cans of lager a day, smoking cannabis and taking valium.

He told the court: “It may have added to some of my daft behaviour but [I was] never sexual or violent.”

During the trial, the court heard Clarke had previously received a caution for possession of indecent images and was put on the sex offenders register.

But when he was arrested at a house in Barrow in 2014, he was in breach of his notification requirements and had started staying overnight with a woman who had a child in the house.

Clarke claimed he did not know he was required to inform the police if he stayed at another address, but when his mobile phone was sent off for analysis, officers discovered indecent images of one of the children, which had been doctored from photographs on Facebook.

Following the verdicts, Judge James Adkin remanded Clarke in custody and ordered a pre-sentence report.

Clarke will remain in prison until he returns to court to be sentenced on June 16.