A SEX offender who raped a three-year-old girl was jailed for 26 years on Thursday in one of the most disturbing cases heard at Gloucester Crown Court for many years.
Stephen Dowdeswell, aged 57, of Merlin Drive, Quedgeley, admitted 27 offences of rape, indecent assault, sexual touching and possessing indecent images dating from 1982 until last year.
His offences against two young girls and a woman whom he had abused when she was a child only came to light in June of this year when one of the victims, an eight-year-old girl, confided in a childminder.
After he was arrested, police found videos which Dowdeswell had made of himself raping and abusing two of the girls.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC said the two videos he had watched were ‘the most chilling pieces of film I have ever seen anywhere.’
Addressing Dowdeswell, the judge said: “I have been in the criminal courts for 35 years and inevitably judges become hardened to such behaviour.
“But I can say without hesitation that I have never come across such a degree of depravity.”
Prosecutor Lisa Hennessy explained how the eight-year-old victim confided in a childminder on June 7 this year.
A police inquiry revealed that Dowdeswell was abusing and had raped another girl aged just three and had also raped a woman when she was a child.
Dowdeswell had told all three to keep his abuse secret and threatened to kill the mother of one of them if she told anyone.
Besides the videos, officers also discovered 3,000 indecent images of children on his computer.
Lloyd Jenkins, for the defence, said: “He is under no illusion and knows through me that he is looking at a life sentence.
“He tells me he knew this day was going to come. It has caught up with him now.”
The judge passed a sentence for public protection which means that even after he serves half his term, Dowdeswell can only be released on licence if the parole board is satisfied that he is no longer a danger to children.