March 2018

Sex attacker molested young girl

A sex offender who abused a young girl leaving her feeling her life had been wrecked has been jailed for six years.

Teesside’s top judge said 47-year-old Jason Leonard was still in denial about his crimes despite the “overwhelming” evidence against him.

While the victim of the abuse still wrestles with its far-reaching effects on her life, he said through his lawyer it was “deeply shaming and embarrassing” for him.

Leonard groomed, isolated and sexually abused the underage girl in a “den” years ago, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He told the vulnerable girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that she was special, he loved her and wanted to have sex with her when she was older.

He repeatedly molested her, grabbing her when she tried to push him away, said prosecutor Shaun Dodds.

At one point he pushed her against a wall, grabbed her hand and said: “Touch me.” He only let go when she screamed.

He tried to force her to touch him on another occasion but she managed to get away.

He also showed her adult pornography on his phone, the court was told.

She did not want to reveal what had happened, but friends suggested she tell a teacher when it got too much for her.

Leonard, formerly of Alfred Street, Redcar, denied the sexual offences.

He was found guilty of one charge of sexual assault of a child under 13, two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one of causing a child to watch a sexual act after a trial last month.

The victim said in a statement she felt like she had been punished and blamed when she had done nothing wrong.

“I feel like it’s ruined my life,” she said.

“It’s all starting to really get on top of me to the point where sometimes I feel like I don’t want to be here anymore.

“I don’t really go out at all anymore. I’ve had trouble sleeping.

“I’ve spent so much time trying not to think about it, it’s all been brought up and I can’t push it out of my mind.”

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Leonard: “You were convicted on the overwhelming evidence by the jury.

“This was a bad case of grooming and planning these assaults.

“You remain in denial in relation to these matters.”

Leonard was jailed for six years and given a sexual harm prevention order, which bans him from contacting the victim indefinitely.

He will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.

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