July 2003

Ex-children’s entertainer jailed for child sex offences

A pensioner, convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl while working as a children’s entertainer known as Uncle Alan, has been jailed for 18 months.

Judge James Spencer QC told Alan Gordon Ross, appearing for sentence at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, that the offences were a “gross breach of trust”. Ross, 69, who gave magic and slide shows, was found guilty by a jury at York Crown Court in May of three charges of indecent assault on the girl, and one of gross indecency.

The abuse happened between 1976 and 1980 in North Yorkshire, when Ross, of Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, was a signalman on the Esk Valley Line, but worked part-time as a magician and children’s entertainer.

He later became a professional entertainer, but gave that up in 1994, when he was convicted of indecently assaulting another girl.

Judge James Spencer told him: “In the late 1970s you pursued a course of conduct against this little girl, for which I now sentence you.

“She was 10. You were a children’s entertainer – and, no doubt, to her someone who was exciting and special, and you told her she was special to you.

“Over time, having gained her parents’ confidence, you indecently assaulted her and had her touch you intimately.

“It was a gross breach of trust after you had groomed her to be compliant, and all for your own gratification.”

The judge rejected a plea from James Hill, defending that he consider a sex offenders’ course for Ross, instead of jail because of his age and the time which has passed since the offences took place.

Judge Spencer said the fact that 25 years had passed did not make the offences any less serious. “There is absolutely no mitigation for what you did, and not even now do you admit it.” He said in his view there was no point in Ross undergoing such a course.

The jury heard from John Elvidge, prosecuting, at the trial, that Ross would contrive situations where he was able to touch the girl by using the pretext that she was helping him with the show.

On one occasion he took her into a room, showed her a magic trick and then asked her to demonstrate it to him.

As she did so, he indecently assaulted her, telling her to say nothing because it was their “little secret”. On another occasion, he was giving a slide show in a village hall, and asked the girl to help him by sitting behind the projector.

He then indecently assaulted her. Another offence happened at a party in Castleton Village Hall, when he took her into a hallway and started touching her, telling her she was special.

His victim, now in her 30s, told the jury: “I kept thinking, why was it me? Why is it always me and what is so special about me? I didn’t want to be special. I just wanted to be like anyone else.”

She said she did not tell anyone because she was ashamed, but had started seeing a counsellor in 1997, and last year felt able to report it the police.

By then Ross had already made a court appearance for an unrelated matter, having been put on probation for a year in 1994 for indecent assault on a girl of nine.