April 2019

Serious sexual assaults committed against two children has led to a Gillingham man being sentenced to 22 years imprisonment

Jonathan Richards carried out serious sexual assaults against the children at a property in Gillingham in 2003.

The registered blind 36-year-old, of Britton Street in Gillingham, denied raping a child, gross indecency with a child, sexual assault on a child and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was convicted of each offence following a trial which took place at Maidstone Crown Court in January 2019. He was sentenced at the same court on Monday 29 April 2019.

Richards, who needs a special stick to move around, was escorted from the dock by a security officer to begin his long sentence.

Judge Julian Smith told him he will have to serve two-thirds of an immediate 18 year jail term before he is eligible for parole and will then serve an extra four years on licence when he is finally released.

His two brave victims – who gave evidence at the trial – hugged each other after Richards was jailed.

Both were young children when the predatory sex attacker pounced on them in three separate incidences more than 10 years ago.

The woman said in a victim impact statement that Richards had robbed her of her childhood after she fled from his vile clutches.

Prosecutor Patricia May had told the jury how the male child was so traumatised by the rape he kept silent – even contemplating suicide.

But then many years later he spotted Richards getting on a bus and decided to reveal details of his heart-wrenching ordeal.

The courageous victim, who read out his impact statement in court, told Judge Smith how he had turned to drink and drugs to cope with his trauma.

He added: “Before the incident occurred I was a normal child, playing outside with my friends.”

He revealed how after the rape his education suffered and when a teacher placed his hand on his shoulder, “I just froze”.

“What happened has ruined my life and my relationships…I wake up at night covered in sweat, suffering nightmares and flashbacks. My worry is now when I will be able to lead a normal life again.”

Jailing Richards, the judge told him he had been “manipulative” and “arrogant” and had preyed on young vulnerable children who he had humiliated.

“There has been no remorse for your predatory behaviour on two victims.”

He added that he viewed Richards as someone who poses an ongoing risk to “very, very young children” in the future.

After the sentencing Mrs May revealed to the judge that a member of Richards’ family had said to Richards in the courtroom: “Don’t worry John..I know where they (the victims) live”.

He was prevented from leaving by a police officer and later the Judge warned him that making threats in court is a viewed as a contempt, which carries a jail sentence.

The man apologised after the judge added: “Make sure there is no more trouble.”