January 2018

Child sex offender wasted his second chance

A man who had sex with a schoolgirl has been jailed after he squandered a controversial second chance.

In February, Ashley Thomas Cane remained free, despite being convicted of having sex with a child.

A crown court judge took the unusual step of suspending his prison sentence.

But Cane was unable to keep out of trouble and was brought back to court on Friday, December 15, when he was convicted of common assault.

During the hearing, at Reading Crown Court, he tried to blame his behaviour on the press.

The 22-year-old has now been jailed by the same judge whose mercy he repaid by repeatedly violating the terms of the suspension and turning up drunk to probation meetings.

Cane’s original trial was told how he had promised marriage, children and undying love to a vulnerable, self-harming 14-year-old.

But after having sex with the girl he mocked her and branded her a “slut” to his friends, trial jurors were told.

One of them expressed disgust, and texted: “You’re a wrong ’un. Stay away… she’s just a kid.”

But Cane, formerly of Lambourn and Thatcham, but lately of Bannister Place, Brimpton, made a mocking, obscene reference to child sex and replied: “It’s cool”.

In February, Judge Ian Grainger sentenced him to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.

That prompted an unsuccessful appeal by Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC, who argued that Cane should have been locked up.

But one of the conditions of the suspension was that Cane keep out of trouble. And that, he failed to do.

At the hearing at Reading Crown Court, Charles Ward-Jackson, prosecuting, said a drunken Cane deliberately slammed his body into a man at Reading train station, knocking him to the concourse.

On another occasion at the station, said Mr Ward-Jackson: “He was clearly drunk. His eyes were glazed, his speech slurred and he was unsteady on his feet.”

He was arrested after making a racist remark and swearing at a British Transport Police officer.

Cane admitted assaulting Jimmy Clancy on May 12 and being drunk and disorderly on August 10.

He has previous convictions for theft, contempt of court and causing grievous bodily harm by stabbing a man in the stomach.

Adam Williams, defending, blamed his client’s behaviour on the media, saying: “Due to the adverse press he lost his job; he was turning to alcohol as an escape.

“Regarding the common assault, the defendant puts forward the account that it was due to the adverse press.

“There were a number of press reports which brought his name to the attention of everyone in the local area.”

He said that, accordingly, Mr Clancy had criticised him on social media, so Cane, in his drunken state, decided to confront him.

Concerning the second charge, Mr Williams claimed Cane had been fleeing a group of youths who had recognised him.

Mr Williams said: “He decided the safest option was to get himself arrested,” and he urged the judge to defer sentence.

But Judge Grainger said: “According to the probation service, he turns up drunk to the Thames Valley programme.”

Turning to Cane, he said: “I explained to you I was giving you a chance. I was criticised for doing so and the matter was taken to the Court of Appeal.

“The problem is, when I sentenced you I made it perfectly clear – I made it crystal clear – that the chance was on condition of a number of matters.

“I said…that you must cease to be dependent on drugs and alcohol.

“You have committed other offences within a matter of days after the court of appeal upheld the suspended sentence I handed down to you.

“The interests of justice require the implementation of the suspended sentence.”

Cane was sentenced to a reduced term of 18 months imprisonment and will serve half that in custody.

In addition, he was ordered to pay a statutory victim services surcharge of £115.