January 2019

Sex offender who claims he found God after he touched young girl avoids prison

A selfish sex offender who touched a young girl, blighting her life, has avoided prison after he claimed he had found God.

Andrew Wilson, 54, kept his freedom after Teesside’s top judge was told he expressed regret – yet struggled to accept his guilt.

He groomed the underage girl, making inappropriate comments about her body, touching her bottom and discussing his sex life, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He tried to encourage her to expose her breasts and called her a “chicken” when she refused, said prosecutor Richard Bennett.

Finally he stripped naked, walked up behind her, kissed her and massaged her shoulders, saying: “Are you going to turn around then? I wish you would see me.”

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told a family member what happened the next day.

In a powerful statement read out in the courtroom, she described the far-reaching effects of Wilson’s crimes on her in April 2017.

She said the ordeal shattered her trust in men and “tainted” different areas of her life, including her sleep, education, work and relationships.

“I’m still coming to terms with my trust issues,” she added.

‘I’ve spent two years feeling that I wouldn’t be believed’
“I feel like this whole situation has taken my independence from me.

“I’ve spent two years feeling that I wouldn’t be believed. The whole period left me feeling helpless.

“I felt lonely and it’s been extremely difficult to get people to understand how that feels.

“I cut myself off from people and avoided men and even boys my own age.

“It’s going to be very difficult for me to trust people again and be able to socialise freely.”

She said the court case had taken its toll on her and her family but she hoped the sentence would reflect how she had suffered.

‘He’s found Christianity’

Wilson, of Springholme, Stockton, denied sexual activity with a child and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

A jury convicted him after a trial and he faced a potential prison sentence of up to three years.

Nigel Soppitt, defending, said Wilson, who had no previous sexual offences on his record, had been profoundly affected as well as the young victim.

He said Wilson felt his life had been ruined and made “outlandish threats” amid despair, desperation and anxiety, tried to kill himself twice and was taken to a psychiatric hospital.

He said: “He knows that his foolishness has lost him his wife forever, his son probably forever, his employability. He knows his actions have cost all of this.”

Now, after working with the Moses Project, which supported him in court, and Junction 42: “He’s found Christianity.

“He presents today in court as a much enlightened man.”

‘He still hasn’t come to terms with what he did’
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said: “He still hasn’t come to terms with what he did though.”

Mr Soppitt said: “It’s a matter he must come to terms with sooner or later.

“He’s been judged by 12 people to be guilty of these offences.

“What he sought to do in conference this morning is express his regret.

“He’s very reluctant, it would seem, to accept his guilt to other people.

“He knows he’s growing older a dejected and lonely man,” he added.

Mr Soppitt urged the judge not to add to Wilson’s despair by sending him to prison, but to give him a chance to stay on the straight and narrow and “seek redemption”.

Judge Bourne-Arton told Wilson: “You were convicted by the jury on overwhelming evidence of these two offences.

“You maintained your innocence to the jury despite all the evidence.

“It was clear to me throughout the trial that you were only interested in yourself.”

He said Wilson groomed the girl, kissed and touched her inappropriately: “You were a grown man.

“You say your life has been ruined. You therefore know the misery of a life that has been ruined.

“She has had her life ruined.”

But he said a jail term would see Wilson released in a short time without work being done with him.

Wilson was given a one-year prison sentence suspended for two years with 40 days’ rehabilitation activity and a five-year restraining order forbidding him from contacting the girl, approaching within 100m of her or entering a specified area.