March 2004

Sex assault leads to sports centre ban

A swimming enthusiast who indecently assaulted a schoolgirl at a pool in north Wales has been banned from every sports and leisure centre in the UK.

The special restraining order, believed to be one of the first of its kind, was made under the Sexual Offences Act.

Christopher John Padday, 46, was jailed for 12 months after admitting assaulting the 15-year-old girl four times at Wrexham’s Waterworld swimming pool.

Padday, of Belton Road in Whitchurch, Shropshire, was ordered to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years and an order was made that he should never work with children.

Judge Geoffrey Kilfoil, sitting at Mold Crown Court, also made an order under which meant Padday could not approach his victim, or enter any public or private sports centre or swimming pool for the next 10 years.

The judge said that such an order was needed “to protect the public, particularly young girls, from serious harm from the defendant.”

The court heard that, since the incident, the girl had become scared of men and even pulled away when her own father hugged her.

She had also destroyed her swimming costume because she could not bear to look at it.

Judge Kilfoil told Padday that the incident had been very distressing incident for the girl.

After being assaulted, she got out of the pool and complained to staff. When she got back into the water, Padday was seen to repeat the assault.

“Even after she got out and complained to staff and you were watched, when she got back in to the water, you did it again,” the judge told him.

“This was a girl of 15 at a very delicate time in a young female’s life,” he said.

Judge Kilfoil said he was conscious of the fact that Padday was a man of previous good character who had thrown it all away.

He said he had to impose a prison sentence, not just to punish the defendant, but to act as a deterrent to others.

“It is a sentence not only aimed at you as the particular defendant but also at others who may feel moved to behave in a similar manner,” he said.

Prosecuting barrister Steven Everett told how the girl and a friend had been swimming last November when the defendant swam past and touched her breast.

At first she thought it may have been an accident, but when it happened again she told a member of staff.

But, after she got back in the water, he did it twice more. Staff who watched him and said he appeared obsessed with the two girls, and was staring at them.

As he left, they took his name and address and a complaint was later made to the police. When interviewed by police, he denied that anything had happened, but he changed his plea when he appeared at the magistrates’ court.

Defence barrister John Coffell said his client could not explain the offence. He was a man of excellent character, but had a fragile mental state, Mr Coffell told the court.

The defendant had been under stress, at the time, he said.

He had been living in fear of redundancy and his mother had been very ill.

In a statement to the court, the schoolgirl said she was still suffering flashbacks following the incident, and had developed a fear of men.

“When walking down the street I am aware of men and I try to keep away from men,” she said.

“When my father hugs me I push him away. That never happened before.”

The court heard that the strain of the incident had caused arguments between the girl and her mother, and she had left her home in north Wales to live with her father in another part of the country.

“I have lost confidence in myself. I cannot concentrate on my school work because I suffer flashbacks to this incident,” she said.

The incident caused her to have mood swings. She had suffered from depression before the incident, but the attack had made her problems worse.