February 2019

50 years ago he ruined a little girl’s life – now this abuser has finally been jailed

After escaping justice for half a century, a pervert is finally behind bars for sex attacks which shattered a young girl.

Philip Rootham, from Kenton Bar, carried out appalling assaults on his victim then threatened her with the “little girl’s home” if she told anyone.

The acts, carried out in the 1960s when Rootham was just 17 himself, left his victim – who was still in primary school – “terrified”.

When he was finally confronted, he told police: “It was a long time ago – but I’m not denying it.”

Now, the 67-year-old has been jailed for 21 months after admitting two charges of indecent assault.

Newcastle Crown Court heard former borstal boy Rootham touched the girl’s genitals, and made her touch his.

“He would fondle us between the legs,” recalled his victim.

“I was terrified.”

That abuse had a “dramatic effect in the most awful way” on the girl, who has struggled to cope with what happened.

The court heard she had struggled with her mental health. When she was younger, she would wet herself.

Addressing the impact Rootham’s actions had on her, Judge Robert Earl said: “She does not value herself.

“She has a low self-worth.

“She tortures herself over what she could have done differenty.”

That abuse over 50 years ago has had a “significant” impact on the rest of her life, the judge said.

In mitigation, Rootham was said to have fully cooperated with police after he was initially arrested in January 2017.

The court heard he had shown “remorse” and hadn’t re-offended in the same way since.

Judge Earl wrestled with the complex sentencing, citing both the law at the time of the offending, along with his age at the time.

But he refused to suspend it, acknowledging the “devastating impact” it had on the victim.

“You have lived you life, the realty is you have escaped from punishment for most of the time,” he told Rootham, of Piper Court.

But he added: “It is difficult to understand how a young woman at the start of her life has to come to terms with this.”

The defendant must sign the sex offenders’ register for a decade.