August 2011


A MAN who sexually assaulted a teenage girl has been given a suspended prison sentence and been ordered to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work.

Mark Quest, 42, denied the offence but a jury convicted him following a trial.

Preston Crown Court heard the victim, who was aged 14 at the time of the incident, had been invited to Quest’s garage on the pretext some of her friends were there.

She was then taken into his caravan.

Quest – who was then in his later 30s – got undressed to his boxer shorts. He got the girl’s top off and tried to take her bra off, but didn’t succeed.

The girl became distressed and he desisted.

Afterwards the girl went to a friend’s house.

The matter was reported to the police.

Prosecutor Mr Francis McEntee said it was a false report of a “stranger” having attacked her.

The court heard the teenager managed to put the experience behind her.

But years after the offence Quest texted his victim, which brought the events back to her.

Mr McEntee said: “All would have amounted to nothing had the defendant not sent her a text some years later, wishing to renew her acquaintance.

“She had put it all behind her and the distress was renewed for her.”

Mr Simon Mintz, defending, said it seemed to have been the case that Quest had made a sexual approach to the girl, hoping she would consent and she didn’t. He then backed off.

Mr Mintz said: “He was looking for some sexual activity. She said she thought he must have realised she was really scared and that he backed off.

“He asked her out some years later, thinking she might, for some reason, fancy him.

“It was a totally isolated incident. There is no suggestion before or since of any sexual offence.”

The court heard that some time ago Quest had received a letter of commendation from a judge.

In passing sentence, Judge Andrew Woolman told Quest he accepted he had realised the girl was scared and had stopped.

He added: “Some years later you started sending her a series of text messages, purporting to be someone a lot younger than you were and purporting to be one of her friends, which you were not.

“That scared her considerably and brought back all thememories of what happened in the caravan. She reported it to the police.”

Quest, of Vulcan Road, Barrow, was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 12-months’ supervision and an order to do 150 hours’ unpaid work.

He will be on the sex offenders register for seven years. He has been banned indefinitely from working with children and is subject to a two-year restraining order not to contact the victim.