Chilling case of child grooming

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A SOUTH Kirkby man who ‘chillingly’ groomed and then sexually assaulted two young girls has been jailed for more than five years.

Colin Stevenson, 44, of West Street, was sent to prison for five years and three months.

He was found guilty of sexually assaulting two young girls, making a girl a watch a sexual act and having more than 700 indecent images of children on his computer after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Prosecutor, Gerald Hendron, said: “This was a case where the defendant was moving from an illegal and unhealthy interest in children to moving to the next step. It was grooming.”

Passing sentence Judge Sally Cahill QC said the evidence against Stevenson was ‘overwhelming’.

She said it was a progression from photographs to kisses to causing one child to watch a sexual act and was ‘grooming’.

Judge Cahill QC said: “Both these little girls when giving evidence were clearly distressed. They showed an innocence which you were trying to take away.”

She said the situation was quite ‘chilling’ and that Stevenson had taken advantage of the young girls.

The judge said that it was sad Stevenson had put the young girls through the ordeal of a court trial.

She told him: “Sadly you did not have the courage to plead guilty to these matters.”

A jury found Stevenson guilty of three counts of sexual assault on a child under thirteen – which involved separate instances of kissing two girls – and of one count of causing a child to watch a sexual act, all between October 1 and November 18, 2010.

They also found Stevenson guilty of the 11 counts of possessing indecent pictures.

These included 783 images on his computer hard drive, three of which were classed as the most serious.

But he was cleared of two separate counts of sexual assault and one separate count of watching a child to watch a sexual act.

Mitigating Rebecca Young said: “Not only has he lost his good character and liberty but he is likely to lose his home.

“When he is released he will have the clothes he stands up in.”

Det Insp Mark Catney of Wakefield District Police, said: “We welcome the strong sentence for Stevenson which reflects his complete lack of remorse for the offences he has committed against vulnerable victims.

“Since his arrest he has shown no recognition or understanding of the harm his actions have caused and we now hope his conviction will bring a small measure of comfort to those he has abused.

“This has been a complex and very difficult enquiry and we wish to commend the bravery of Stevenson’s victims in helping us secure his conviction.

As well as the prison sentence, he was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which included not having contact with children under 16 without a parent or guardian present.