October 2017

Harlow dad abducted nine-year-old before taking her to the woods and trying to sexually assault her

A man abducted a nine-year-old girl as she played with her friends, took her into secluded woodland and attempted to sexually assault her

John Mercer, 31, of Quarry Spring, who has young children of his own, called out to the young girl on a warm summer’s evening on June 17 of this year 2017, before a neighbour spotted him taking the girl to a secluded spot in the woods.

Appearing in Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday (October 27), Mercer was sentenced to a total of five years behind bars for charges including child abduction and attempted sexual assault

He was handed an 18-month sentence for the abduction and a three years and eight month sentence for the assault which he will serve concurrently.

He was also given a 16-month sentence for possessing a string of indecent images of children, including movies, with some of the victims as young as one.

Recounting the evening of the abduction, prosecution barrister Jane Oldfield said: “We have heard that he wanted to talk to her about sex and wanted to show his willy.

“He then put his hands down his trousers at which point she said no.

“He tried to touch her genital area but she ran off.”

The court heard how despite not being physically harmed, the psychological effects of the incident have left the girl and her family “traumatised.”

The police were called immediately and Mercer was arrested the following day.

On arrest, police found hundreds of indecent images on his phone, which he claimed were on his phone because of a blackmailing incident from someone he met on a swingers website.

Judge Emma Peters, in her sentencing remarks, said: “Those who take pleasure in watching these images fuel child abuse.

“I hear about these on a regular basis, sometimes daily, and these are some of the most repulsive examples of child sexual abuse images I have heard of – the content of it defies description.

“Let me be clear in saying that watching this fuels this trade.

“You have pleaded guilty to abduction and attempted sexual assault which I give you full credit for, but I do not accept your account of how these hundreds of images are on your mobile device.”

Mercer will also sign the Sex Offenders Register for the rest of his life and was issued with an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order which prohibits him from seeing his children.

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