June 2018

Fishburn man jailed over abuse of children in late 90s and early noughties

A man who sexually abused two younger children while in his mid-to-late teens has been brought to justice almost two decades later.

Steven Russell, now 36, was arrested in 2016 over alleged misconduct while aged under 18, but denied any sexual misbehaviour

He was charged with 12 counts alleging indecency involving two complainants, offences he denied at Durham Crown Court, last October.

But, with a trial set to start in late April, the Crown brought a new ten-count indictment, which was put to him at the court on May 2.

Russell, of Cleveland View, Fishburn, admitted seven counts of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child, a mix of specific and specimen offences, but he denied two of taking indecent photos of a child.

Those pleas were accepted by the Crown and sentence was adjourned until this week to allow for preparation of medical and background reports on the defendant.

The sentencing hearing was told Russell, lives with his parents and receives community psychiatric support.

It was said he can function physically as an adult, but not on an emotional level.

The court also heard of the impact the offences have had on the two victims, one of whom described him “destroying” their childhood who still suffers anxiety attacks, while the other has turned to drink and drugs to try to “black it out” of their mind

Judge Simon Hickey said an aggravating factor was the continuity of the offending over several years, but he accepted the defendant has been of otherwise good character since.

Russell was jailed for three years, 18-months for each victim, while he will also be subject to registration as a sex offender for life.