March 2007

Bus driver jailed for abusing local girl

A SCHOOL bus driver from Mansfield who met and molested a 14-year-old Cirencester girl after grooming her over the internet has been jailed for 14 months.

Gareth Crowther, 36, of Lime Acres, Nether Langwith, started talking to the girl in an internet chat room and then by text message before meeting the girl three times.

His contact with the girl was only stopped because of the suspicions of her older sister and the intervention of their mother, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

Crowther pleaded guilty to meeting the girl following grooming on the internet between November 30, 2005 and January 22, 2006, and to sexual touching.

The court was told when Crowther was arrested he claimed he had not realised the girl was under 16. But a search of his computer showed he did have the girl’s date of birth and references to her school.

Jailing him Judge Martin Picton said “You had no good reason to make contact with a girl of that age, to pursue that contact or to arrange to meet her.

“Those meetings should never have taken place and you should never have touched her sexually.”

The judge disqualified Crowther indefinitely from working with children and from meeting, or meeting to seek, girls under 16.

He also ordered Crowther to sign the sex offenders register for the next ten years.