September 2011

Cornwall teaching assistant jailed for sexual abuse

A LISKEARD teaching assistant has been jailed for four years and banned from working with children after sexually abusing a young girl.

Despite being imprisoned, Stephen Warwick, 57, is still employed by Liskeard School and Community College, where he has worked as a teaching assistant for the past eight years

Warwick, of Ash Park Terrace, showed no emotion as a Truro Crown Court jury convicted him of four charges of inciting or causing a little girl to engage in sexual activity with him.

The abuse stretched over several months while the child – who was not a pupil at his school – was four and five years old.

The jury of eight women and four men spent almost four hours deliberating before returning a unanimous verdict on Thursday.

Judge Christopher Elwen told Warwick: “This was a gross breach of trust by someone who had undergone child protection training in his capacity as a teaching assistant.

“The fact of your being a teaching assistant and having undergone such training was a cornerstone of your defence.

“This was shocking conduct. It was not penetrative activity, but what may be the psychological effect upon the child cannot be known although there may be some of a continuing nature.

“This was repetitive activity which warrants consecutive sentences.”

Warwick, who was previously of good character, had denied the allegations.

He must sign the sex offenders register for the rest of his life and will be barred from working with children by the Safeguarding Authority.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Chris Rogers said it was a particularly difficult case and thanked all those involved in bringing Warwick to justice.

“The child should be praised for speaking to her mother about what had happened and then for having the courage in speaking to the police and finally to the court,” he said.

DC Rogers also praised the girl’s family for supporting her and thanked his colleagues in the Child Abuse Investigation Unit at Launceston, along with staff from Social Services who assisted with the investigation.

He thanked the Crown Prosecution Service and Court and Witness Services which he said greatly assisted in bringing the matter to court and achieving a positive outcome.

“The sentence was commensurate with what was a series of serious offences against a young child,” he said.

Detective Sergeant Pete Found, supervisor of the Child Abuse Investigation Unit in the east, said it was a good example of how Cornwall’s robust safeguarding procedures alongside thorough investigation continued to make the county a safe place for children and young people.

When asked to reassure parents their children were safe at the school, a Cornwall Council spokesman, on behalf of the school, said: “We note the decision of the Crown Court in respect of this individual.

“He was suspended from his position at the school as soon as the allegations came to light. The matter will now be considered through the school’s internal disciplinary processes.