January 2012

Paedophile’s ‘harsh’ prison sentence cut

A PAEDOPHILE pensioner who groomed and repeatedly abused a schoolgirl has had his jail sentence reduced after top judges ruled it was “draconian”.

Geoffrey Bridge, aged 72, of Lightwood Close, Farnworth, was jailed indefinitely for public protection at Preston Crown Court last June after admitting multiple charges of sexual and indecent assault.

His sentence has been reduced to eight years by the Appeal Court in London.

Bridge targeted the youngster when she was just 10 years old, the court heard, subjecting her to a variety of humiliating acts of abuse.

Mr Justice Underhill said his crimes had a “profound impact” on his victim, but she did not go to the police until years later, as an adult, when her boyfriend found a lewd message left by Bridge on her Facebook page.

Bridge was also given a sexual offences prevention order barring him from contacting minors and from using Facebook and similar websites.

He appealed on the basis that his indefinite sentence was too harsh for a man of his age.

Mr Justice Underhill, sitting with Lord Justice Gross and Mrs Justice Dobbs, said it was clear Bridge had “groomed and targeted” his victim, but said public protection sentences are reserved for dangerous offenders.

He said: “This was a difficult sentencing exercise, but we don’t believe that this is a case in which the draconian sanction of an indefinite sentence was necessary.”

Bridge must now serve an eight-year sentence, of which he will serve half before being eligible for release on licence and being closely monitored in the community.