October 2017

Paedophile teacher sentenced for sexually abusing two girls

A former primary school teacher who abused his position “in the most appalling way” by sexually abusing two young girls has been sentenced to 14 years

Stephen Higgitt, 60, previously of Wadebridge but who has since moved to The Midlands, was convicted by a jury at Truro Crown Court last month of six charges, two counts of assault on a child under 13 by penetration relating to the younger victim, three assaults by penetration and one charge of sexual assault.

Higgitt arrived at the court to be sentenced today carrying with him several large bags and a guitar.

Throughout the trial the court heard how the charges related to the abuse of two girls and are said to have taken place between 2008 and 2014.

Prosecutor Heather Hope previously told the court that the instances involved Higgitt touching the victims’ private parts and breasts

She said Higgitt was “an upstanding family man who worked as a primary school teacher and was well-regarded”.

She said that, due to Higgitt’s position, the accusation that he was a paedophile by one alleged victim wasn’t taken seriously by some people she told and was put down to her trying to cause trouble.

One of the girls in particular was said to have struggled with the aftermath of the alleged abuse, becoming aggressive to family and friends and staying out late drinking alcohol.

Ms Hope said one of the girls was at first too scared to go to police as she “didn’t want people to think she was disgusting”.

She added: “She couldn’t get it out so always tried to forget about the abuse and put it to the back of her mind.

“When asked why she went to the police she said ‘I just want this to be over with so I can live my life how I want it to be and not get angry’.”

Higgitt denied all the charges throughout the trial, saying he was the victim of “wild and spiteful allegations”.

Addressing Judge Simon Carr in mitigation, Jo Martin said that Higgitt was a hard-working man of previous good character who has spent his time on bail acting as a carer for his elderly parents, who suffer from dementia.

She added that the whole family was struggling as a result of the trial verdicts.

Sentencing Higgitt, Judge Carr said that he was someone who “was trusted implicitly and abused the trust in the most appalling way”.

He said: “You worked at a primary school and when one of the girls had the strength to talk about what happened your position was used as evidence that she was lying.

“At first she was so scared and confused about what happened she said nothing.”

Judge Carr went onto say that when the other girl spoke out, she too was disbelieved which “was devastating for a young person” and that Higgitt had showed no remorse for what happened.

“Only in time will the severity of the harm truly be identified,” he added.

Higgitt was sentenced to 14 years in prison of which he must serve half and sign the sex offenders’ register for life.

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