Update: Now living in Weston Super Mare

December 2014

Chard man jailed for sexual activity with underage girl

A Chard man who subjected a young girl to “dominating and controlling” sexual grooming has been jailed for four years

Shaun Saunders from Combe Street in Chard was found guilty of three counts of sexually assaulting a girl aged 13-15 at Taunton Crown Court on Friday.

The court heard how Saunders, 39, had a relationship with the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, when she was just 14.

The pair had been friends and the relationship turned into a sexual one, which Recorder Collins said while consensual, was still ‘wholly wrong’.

Prosecuting, Tara Woolfe said: “She was a vulnerable girl, she had a low self-esteem and was being bullied.

“Saunders had recently separated from his wife and children when the pair became friends.

“He would hug and kiss her, making sure that no one could see and this, then developed into sexual intercourse.

“She felt cool, flattered and wanted.

“Although the sexual activity was consensual, this man was 36 years old and over twice her age.

“This was a vulnerable girl.”

The girl told police the pair had sex nearly every day over the course of the relationship, which lasted over a year.

Ms Woolfe added that everywhere she went, he would be there and that he was like her shadow.

Recorder Collins said: “You were 36 when you engaged in a relationship with someone who was only 14 and although you are unable to recognise, was far too young to engage in sexual relationship with a man who was twice her age.

“You cannot see that it is wholly wrong and inappropriate for someone like you to engage in an intimate relationship with a girl who is not emotionally equipped for it.

“You in a sense ignored her vulnerability and saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of a young girl who would do anything you wanted.

“I accept that it was consensual but it turned into a domineering and controlling relationship which she found difficult to get away from.”

Recorder Collins said she accepted that Saunders had significant learning difficulties and that he had the inability to understand the age difference between them.

She added: “I don’t detect any remorse or understanding that what you did was wrong.”

Saunders was sentenced to four years in prison and was put on the sex offenders register.

The courts are deciding whether to take out a sex prevention order