July 2010

‘Every parents’ worst nightmare’ locked up

A paedophile who allowed teenagers to use his home to drink and take drugs has been jailed for a sexual relationship with an underage girl.

Darren Francis, aged 37, was branded “every parents’ worst nightmare” after becoming infatuated with a problem teenager.

Despite being regularly warned off by police and the girl’s father, he allowed her to stay at his flat and they soon began having sex.

John Lloyd-Jones, prosecuting at Northampton Crown Court, said she was aged 13 at the time, when Francis was in his mid-thirties, therefore 20 years older.

He said: “He had known her since she was 11 so was well aware of her age. She was something of a troubled soul and her parents were finding it very difficult to control her.

“In late 2007, she began absconding and would go to his flat where there was a supply of a drink and drugs, mainly cannabis although she mentioned there was also cocaine. The defendant would take them as well in the company of these teenagers.

“He made a concerted effort to come between her and her parents and he simply became what we would say is every parents’ worst nightmare.

“In effect, from the age of 13 she fell under his spell, going round to his flat on a virtual daily basis and often she would not come home and if she did, she was under the influence of drink and drugs.

“In summer 2009, she came to her senses and ended matters but he could not cope with the rejection and began harassing her.”

The girl, who cannot be named, then revealed how she had consented to sex with Francis, although she was legally unable to do so as she was underage.

Judge Charles Wide QC, who jailed him for four years and three months, said: “This is not a case of typical exploitation of a young girl as it seems there was some genuine affection from the girl concerned, although it was a wildly, wildly inappropriate relationship.

“The law treats this as a very serious case. I deal with you on the basis you did not supply drugs to her. I make that emphatically clear,” he added.

Francis, of Balfour Road, Kingsthorpe, had been due to face a trial but pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child as well as assaulting her when she rejected his advances last year.

The right wing activist and BNP member was jailed in 2005 for repeated harassment of former Labour MP for Northampton North Sally Keeble.

As well as harassment convictions, Francis has served prison sentences for assault, burglary, affray and robbery.