September 2017

Oldbury-on-Severn man, 50, convicted of sexually assaulting nine-year-old girl from Stonehouse

A 55-year-old man has been remanded in custody today after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a nine year old girl in Stonehouse in April.

Paul Bennett, from Oldbury on Severn, had admitted playfully tickling the girl but denied there was anything sexual about his contact with her.

However, a jury at Gloucester Crown Court found him guilty today of molesting the girl on April 19 and he was remanded in custody to await sentence on Friday afternoon.

He had also denied an earlier alleged assault on the same girl sometime last year in similar circumstances. The jury cleared him of that allegation.

Sarah Jenkins, defending, applied for Bennett to be allowed to remain on bail pending sentence. He has been living at a bail address in Orpen Gardens, Lockleaze, Bristol, while on trial.

Bennett had attended all court hearings without fail so could be trusted on bail, she submitted. He had come to court today in a borrowed car and was concerned that it would be stuck in a local car park if he was in custody, she said.

But prosecutor Tara Wolfe objected to bail saying there was a fear he would not surrender for sentence on Friday. She reminded the court that he had threatened suicide after the allegation was made and he had been found in Severn Beach at 4am the next day.

The judge, Recorder Nigel Lickey QC, refused bail. He told Bennett “It appears that shortly after the offences came to light you left home saying that you were going to take your life. Whether that was genuine I don’t know.

“But you were found at 4am on Severn Beach and arrested and it seems to me there are good grounds for fearing that you will not return on Friday.

“I am also concerned for your own safety and wellbeing pending sentence.

“You will have to make arrangements about what to do with the car.”

The Recorder said he would like a brief probation service report on Bennett on Friday – and also required details of how the little girl is faring now.

Bennett’s offence happened when he was staying at a house in Stonehouse where the little girl was also spending the night.

She was sleeping on the sofa and was wearing nothing on her lower half because she was hot. Bennett went into the living room and put his hand on her genitals, waking her.

The girl got up, went to the bathroom and put on her pants and pyjama trousers before returning to her sleeping bag. She told a woman relative the next morning what had happened. Her mother was then informed and called the police.

Bennett claimed that he had arrived at the house at about midnight, saw that the girl was watching TV and playing on her tablet in the living room and went to speak to her.

He said he gave her a kiss and tickled her playfully on the chest, stomach, legs and feet but did not touch her sexually.

When he was told the next day of the allegation she had made he was ‘sick with shock,’ he said.

Recorder Lickey told the advocates he had not yet decided whether the offence fell into a 1-4 year sentencing category or the more serious 3-7 year category. Either way, he said, an immediate jail term was the most likely outcome.

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