September 2015

Paedophile who groomed girls gets 15-year jail term

A pervert who plied two underage girls with alcohol, cigarettes and gifts and then abused them has been jailed for 15 years.

Mark Todd met the two teenage schoolgirls when he began socialising with them in a churchyard in Wantage, a court heard.

Judge Peter Ross told Oxford Crown Court that Todd, in his early 20s at the time, embarked on sexual relationships with the pair of them over a three-year period.

He said the 34-year-old had groomed the girls by giving them alcohol, cigarettes and gifts. He added: “The cases of these two girls have certain hallmarks.

“You in effect bent these young girls to your will. There has been plying with alcohol, undoubted grooming, a conditioning of dependency.”

Todd, of St Mary’s, Wantage, admitted three counts of indecent assault on the first girl between June 2003 and April 2004, and three counts of sexual activity with a child between May 2004 and December 2005.

The court heard he had originally denied two counts of sexual activity with a child between December 2005 and March 2006 in relation to the second girl, but then admitted them on the day of his trial.

Judge Ross said Todd had controlled the girls sexually, and had even got one of them pregnant. His first victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court that even 10 years later, her family was still suffering from the abuse.

She added: “Mark abused my body, my trust and my vulnerability.

“He took away a part of my childhood that I can never get back. I am still dealing with repercussions of the abuse today.” Todd, wearing a blue polo shirt, sat shaking his head while the girl, now aged 25, read her statement to the court.

Judge Ross branded Todd a paedophile who had destroyed the lives of the two young girls, and said his first victim had more courage in her little finger than he had in his whole body.

He added: “All of those gathered in court listened with care to the calm way in which she described to us the effect of what you did to her. “It takes a remarkable degree of courage to put those things down in writing, it takes much more courage to stand here in public and repeat them.

Judge Ross jailed Todd for 15 years, imposed a sexual harm prevention order, and said he will have to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.

Speaking after the hearing on Friday, one of the girl’s fathers said: “As I walked out it felt like a new day, a different day in a different life. I am shocked, I am relieved. “The sentence was right.”

One count of sexual activity with a child and another of buggery were left to lie on file.