May 2004

Author jailed for sex abuse of girls

AN award-winning children’s author has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for sex attacks on young girls dating back more than 40 years.

William Mayne, 76, was also ordered to be placed on the sex offenders’ register, and banned from working with children for life.

Several people were called by Mayne’s defence team to give character references, while letters of support from all over the world were given to Judge David Bryant before sentencing yesterday.

They described him as a dedicated and talented man whose teaching and literary work had brought joy to children for generations.

David Robson, for Mayne, told Judge Bryant: “It is right to put the evil that men do, if that’s how Your Honour has to look at it, against the immense good this man has done to young people over the years, to society at large, and to weigh the agony of a custodial sentence against the benefit he has served to society over these years.”

Mayne, of Thornton Rust, near Leyburn, North Yorkshire, admitted 11 charges of indecent assault between 1960 and 1975 on the third day of his trial at Teesside Crown Court in March.

Last week, he failed in a bid to have his admissions withdrawn after sacking his original legal team, claiming he had been bullied into changing his pleas.

Two charges of indecently assaulting two sisters, which he denied, were left on file, and the jury had been directed to find Mayne not guilty of two charges of rape.

Richard Mansell, prosecuting, said Mayne abused the trust of children and their parents.

Judge Bryant said: “You have shown no real remorse or understanding for what you did to these girls.

“I have heard a great deal about how this case is a tragedy for you and I accept that, but I must also remember that it is also a tragedy for each of those women .”

Mayne, who has had more than 130 books published, has been described as “our most prestigious living writer for the young”.