April 2012

Plymouth man who molested two girls is jailed for 7 years

A PAEDOPHILE who molested two little girls more than 20 years ago has been jailed for seven years at Plymouth Crown Court.

Pensioner John Sparkes was caught after he visited a relative to complain about allegations being made about him.

That triggered memories of things the girls had told the relative years before, and the matter was reported to the police.

Sparkes, described as having a low IQ and mild learning difficulties, at first gave officers a ‘no comment’ interview, saying he couldn’t remember.

But on being charged, he said: “I know I have done wrong and I know I am going to have to pay for it.”

He confessed to four specimen counts of indecent assault, two against each girl.

Prosecutor Emma Birt said Sparkes would visit the girls and touch them indecently.

One of the girls said this went on two or three times a week for many months, while the other victim said she could remember only four specific incidents.

In a victim impact statement, one of them said: “I didn’t think my mum and dad would believe me.”

The other victim said: “Even now my body shakes.

“I tried to leave home when I was little because I didn’t feel safe.

“I learned to cry into my pillow so no-one could hear.”

Paul Rowsall, for Sparkes, said: “He’s rather an odd character, a sad and lonely man, virtually friendless, who in former times would have been called a simpleton.

“He bought them sweets, but it would be a little harsh to talk in terms of grooming when he has little grasp of the concept.

“He caused fear and distress, but that was not his intention.”

Mr Rowsall said Sparkes had no previous convictions and was ashamed and remorseful.

Judge Francis Gilbert QC told Sparkes, aged 67 and of North Down Crescent, Keyham: “You knew they were frightened of you and distressed by what you were doing to them.

“I regard this as very serious sexual abuse.”

He jailed Sparkes for seven years, ordered him to remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register until further order and imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, also indefinitely and for a minimum five years.