June 2017

Former boss of Darlington adoptions agency for vulnerable youngsters jailed for child sex assaults

A former social worker who carried out the repeated sexual abuse of a young girl is starting a six year and eight month prison sentence.

Eric Forster engineered situations to be in contact with the girl so he could sexually touch her, often while supposedly tickling her.

But, Durham Crown Court heard he also took photographs of the girl after urging her to perform the splits, or ruder versions, to expose her underwear, much to her embarrassment.

Paul Abrahams said it came to police attention after the girl made disclosure to her mother and grandmother.

Forster was arrested at his home, in Neasham, Darlington, in December 2015.

Mr Abrahams said several electronic devices were removed but Forster told police they would not find any indecent images of children on examination.

He also claimed in lifting the child he may have accidentally brushed his arm past her, which may have been mistakenly thought to have been indecent touching, while he did admit taking a photograph of the girl, although he claimed it was not inappropriate.

But, Mr Abrahams said examination of a seized lap-top and memory sticks uncovered 132 indecent images of children, three in the most serious category, featuring girls thought to be aged nine and ten being raped by adult males.

Forster was re-interviewed and apart from claiming the memory sticks were second hand, made no comment to questioning.

Mr Abrahams said there was no credible explanation as to how Forster could have accidentally touched the girl, and the discovery of the indecent material on the devices, which appeared to have been actively sought and saved, was “overwhelming evidence” that the defendant was sexually attracted to children.

Forster, 58, now of Brompton Park, Brompton-on-Swale, near Richmond, denied four charges of sexually assaulting a child under 13, covering at least eight alleged incidents, two counts of making indecent photographs of a child and one of possessing prohibited child images.

But, following a police computer expert’s evidence, Forster changed his pleas to ‘guilty’ to the three images offences, in mid-trial, claiming he looked at them out of “curiousity”.

A jury returned unanimous ‘guilty’ verdicts to the four sexual assault charges.

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince told Forster: “It’s absolutely clear to me you do have a sexual interest in children, reflected by your computer use, the material reported to be on your computer, and the fact you went on to commit the contact offences.”

He was made subject of restrictions over contact with anyone aged under 16, and over future computer use, under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, without limit of time, while he must register as a sex offender for life.