November 2006

Pilot jailed for grooming girls

A former airline pilot who admitted grooming and sexually assaulting four young girls has been jailed for six years and three months.

Mark Henderson, 39, of Bedford Road, Rushden, Northants, pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including indecent assault and sexual activity with a child.

At Northampton Crown Court last month, he admitted making indecent pictures of the girls, aged between 11 and 14.

Judge Charles Wide QC told Henderson he had “groomed them for abuse”.

Parents’ trust

Henderson admitted five charges of indecent assault, an attempted sex assault, sexual activity with a child and gross indecency, as well as four counts of making indecent pictures of the girls.

He pleaded guilty to the charges on the day he was due to stand trial on 27 charges, including rape and attempted rape.

The court heard the former Monarch Airlines pilot Henderson used treats, money and the availability of alcohol to groom the girls.

He was trusted by the girls’ parents, who allowed them to stay over at his home.

The abuse came to light when one of his victims began self-harming.

She spoke about the assaults to another of Henderson’s victims and they went to police.

Judge Wide QC told him: “You manipulated the situations when you would be with the girls, you used money, treats and alcohol to attract them.”

Henderson, who was sacked by the airline when the allegations came to light, apologised for his actions.

He was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and was banned for life from working with children.