February 2009

Man who preyed on young girls locked up

A pervert who preyed on young girls has been locked up indefinitely after a judge decided he was a danger.

Kenneth Clarke will serve a minimum sentence of two-and-a-half years, less seven months spent on remand, and will only be released if the parole board decides it is safe to do so.

The 23-year-old father smirked and stood with his hands in his pockets as Judge David Griffith-Jones, QC, said he had carried out a campaign of sexually-motivated offences.

“During the course of your trial you displayed arrogance throughout,” he said. “I have no doubt you pose a high risk of serious harm to young females.”

Maidstone Crown Court heard Clarke tried to abduct one teenager and molested another at a bus stop.

Clarke, whose family home in Gillingham, is near a school, denied attempted kidnap but was convicted.

He had previously been convicted of sexual assault by magistrates and committed for sentence.

Alex Scott, prosecuting, said the 14-year-old girl was on her way to school in Maidstone in July last year when she saw Clarke in his car. She was concerned and took a short cut.

But Clarke found her again. He stopped and spoke to her, asking for directions. She leaned inside the car to hear what he was saying and he grabbed her.

He tried to pull her into the car, saying: “Come on love, I will take you to school.”

She struggled and fought him off. She ran to school and complained to a teacher, who called the police.

Mr Scott said a few days earlier, another schoolgirl was walking near to where Clarke lives. A car stopped and the driver spoke to her.

He asked her age and wanted her telephone number. When she told him she was 15, he replied: “That doesn’t matter.” He drove off.

The sexual assault conviction followed Clarke approaching a girl, aged 16, at a bus stop outside the Pentagon Centre in Chatham.

He spoke to her about bus routes before grabbing hold of her. He was later convicted of sexual assault.

Clarke was banned from working with children or being in the company of girls, other than his daughter. He was placed on the sex offenders’ register.

The judge said the offences reflected a disturbing feature of Clarke’s character.

“I have no doubt you were on the prowl, cruising an area close to a school, on the lookout for a victim,” he said.

“There is little need for me to elaborate on the horrific consequences if your plan hadn’t been frustrated. Your victim was terrorised and to some extent traumatised by your actions.

“The pattern of offences has escalated in a sinister way. It is made all the more of a concern by the fact you are in denial and have little or no insight into the potential consequences,”

Judge Griffith-Jones said he would have imposed a determinate sentence of five years.