October 2017

Former police puppy walker sentenced for catalogue of child sex crimes


A detective constable has praised the memories of trial witnesses after a former police puppy walker was jailed for 21 years for the sickening sexual abuse of two young children.

Michael Bennett, 68, of Fore Street in Tywardreath near St Austell, was sentenced at Truro Crown Court after being convicted over two separate trials of three sexual assaults on a female by penetration, two attempted rapes, one rape and two indecent assaults.

Throughout the most recent trial the court heard details of how, nearly 30 years ago, Bennett raped and sexually abused the first victim, who was aged under ten at the time.

The jury was told how the victim gave an account of four specific incidents that she recalled where she was sexually abused by Bennett, saying that she did not know the things he did were sexual, but felt they were not right.

She described how he lifted her top and pulled her trousers down and put his penis near her shoulder and face and took a Polaroid photo of them.

The victim, now in her thirties, described Bennett and him showing her a pornographic video on another occasion and, another time, putting his penis in her mouth. She recalls that her father walked nearby and Bennett quickly zipped up his trousers as he did not expect to see him.

The final assault relating to the first victim was concerning a rape involving her being naked and him performed oral sex on her and then having sex with her.

Bennett warned the girl that if she told anyone then she would be locked up and taken away from her parents. She eventually reported the matter to police in 2016.

Unusually in the trial, the prosecution called a witness who had alleged, when she was aged under ten, that she had also been the victim of rape and sexual assault at the hands of the defendant in the late Eighties. Although Bennett was acquitted of these charges in 1998, details of the allegations were shared as part of a bad character application granted by Judge Robert Linford.

The court also heard from the victim’s father, prosecutor Fiona Elder saying that on one particular occasion he went to find his daughter and eventually spotted her with Bennett. The girl’s mother also told of how she once returned from a weekend in Tywardreath and complained of soreness below.

Bennett gave evidence where he admitted that he knew the little girl and did spend time with her but denied that he sexually abused the girl in any way and said the claims were all fabrication.

The charges relating to the first victim in time were counts of rape and two indecent assaults.

Judge Linford also sentenced him for two attempted rapes and three sexual assaults on a female by penetration, of which he was convicted at a trial in the summer.

The crimes detailed in the earlier trial also took place in the St Austell area, this time between 2009 and 2013.