Thornaby sex attacker has been ‘ostracised’
A man convicted of two indecent assaults he committed on a young girl while he was a teenager had subsequently been physically attacked and “ostracised” within his community, a court was told.
Paul Wheater, 46, of Lanchester Way, Thornaby, put his hand into the victim’s knickers and also tried to put his hand down her top.
The victim gave statements describing the impact of the abuse on her and said she too had subsequently received abuse via social media after the case went to court.
He made “persistent efforts” to get the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to take part in sexual activity, Teesside Crown Court heard from prosecutor Rupert Doswell.
She said he locked her in a room and would not let her out unless she gave in to his wishes.
The jury convicted him on two counts of indecent assault.
He had been accused of raping the victim, but jurors could not reach a verdict on this charge.
Wheater’s barrister argued the offences did not pass the threshold for custody and also said there was no evidence that as an adult he had a sexual interest in children.
Wheater frequently shook his head during the hearing at Teesside Crown Court as the evidence was heard.
Judge Peter Armstrong said the maximum sentence available to him was that which would have been available at the time the offences were committed.
After a lengthy delay to consider sentence on Wheater, the judge said he was not minded to jail him.
He also declined an application by the prosecution to impose a sexual harm prevention order.
Wheater, who had denied the offences at trial, was given a year-long community order by the judge in the case and ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work