November 1999

Pervert walks free from court

A SECRET love tryst with a 12-year-old girl led to a member of the Nether Heyford-based Jesus Fellowship being placed on probation for three years at Northampton Crown Court.

Robert Rickman-Smith, from Llandudno, pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse at an earlier hearing. The offence happened at one of the fellowship s centres in the Daventry area where both the girl and Rickman-Smith were staying.

The court was told the 21-year-old twice had sex with the girl who was infatuated with him. In July, they met in the stables at the home, the girl telling Rickman-Smith she wanted to have sex with him because she loved him.

The court heard on Friday (NOV5) he was consumed with guilt afterwards but ignored his conscience because she had pursued him.Prosecutor Nicola Smith said: Concern had been expressed within the Fellowship and Rickman-Smith had been given the appropriate advice.

At one stage he told the elders he found the girl attractive and her attention to him flattering but denied anything improper had occurred.

Later he admitted the relationship to them.A condition of the probation order is that for at least a year Rickman-Smith must stay at a special centre in Wales and attend a sex offenders group.

A spokesman for the Fellowship later said consultations would be taking place with Social Services with a view to improving their child protection policy.