January 2019

Man detained after girl, 12, dragged into bushes in horrific sex attack

An elderly man who committed terrifying sexual assaults against a young girl after dragging her into bushes is likely to spend the rest of his life in hospital.

The victim, who was just 12 at the time, was pulled from her bicycle and pinned down by John Potts, then 71, who told her: “You’re going in the park to do rude things”.

He then repeatedly sexually assaulted her after pulling her trousers down, and his to his knees.

The terrified girl was saved by passers-by, and later told police that Potts was “itching his bum and put his hand over my mouth and it had p** on it. It was on his fingers and it smelt of dog s***”.

Potts, now 72, has dementia and a brain injury and was not fit to stand trial during his case on November 13, where he was found guilty of two sexual assaults of a child under 13 and inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

He was detained under the Mental Health Act after the incident, which happened between Bransholme and Sutton last year.

Potts was brought before the court again today with Judge Paul Watson QC receiving medical evidence on Potts’ condition to decide whether he should be given a custodial sentence or hospital stay.

Flanked by three mental health nurses, Potts, wearing a light blue shirt, was told by the judge that he would be spending the rest of his life in hospital following his crime in order to keep the public safe, unless the Home Office deemed otherwise.

When addressing Potts, Judge Paul Watson QC said a jury had found Potts sexually assaulted the girl repeatedly.

“As you were under a disability when you committed the acts, you have been deemed not fit to plead and I’ve now had to consider what to do with the limited options that I have before me,” he said.

“After hearing the live evidence of doctors and reading the information they have provided me with, I believe that you suffer from a mental disorder of such a degree that you need to be detained in a secure hospital under section 37 of the Mental Health Act.

“In regard to the nature and potential of further offending if you were to be set at large as your condition is likely irreversible, I’m also putting a section 41 restriction in place in order to protect the public.

“You will now be taken back to hospital and detained unless or until the Home Office see it fit that you be released.”

‘I tried to stop him but he went on’

The girl had been on her way to a friend’s or relatives when she was grabbed by Potts one afternoon. She told police: “He forced me to go with him. He was dragging my bike.”

Describing part of the assault, she said: “I tried to stop him but he went on with it.”

The jury was told that a mix of forensic evidence was found in her underwear, and it was “a billion times more likely to be from him and her rather than her and an unrelated [to the case] person”.

She was rescued by passers-by, with one man who came across the attack telling Potts: “You’re dead, you’re dead. She’s a 12-year-old girl,” Hull Crown Court heard.

Potts was also told: “You’re getting buried. I’m ringing the police to come and arrest you.” He replied: “I don’t care about the police. The police can come and arrest me.”

A woman driving in the area had also been so concerned about what she saw as a “scuffle” in the bushes, she turned her car round and went to assist, comforting the victim as a group of men gathered and ensured Potts could not flee the scene. He was then arrested.