FOR more than three decades, Stephen Warner evaded justice for his sickening sex crimes committed against a young girl.
However, today the evil offender is behind bars after his victim finally found the strength to report the offences to the police, and then had the courage to give vital evidence in a court trial that helped to convict Warner.
Warner, who is now 59, sexually assaulted his victim over several years. He was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child after a week-long trial last month.
One of the counts of indecent assault related to multiple attacks on the woman when she was a child between 1975 and 1984. The other two counts related to specific incidents, one of which took place years later, when the victim was 17.
At the Winchester Crown Court sentencing hearing, Judge Guy Boney told Warner, right, that the passage of time had not dulled the pain for his victim.
He said: “She is now a mature woman and the damage you have done to her… is still plain to see when she described what you had done. At one point, she used the expression ‘you had ruined her’”.
Warner was acquitted of a charge of rape and the jury could not reach a verdict on a third count of indecent assault. He had denied all the charges.
Defending Warner, Mary Aspinall-Miles asked Judge Boney to take the rape acquittal into account when passing sentence.
She told the court Warner had suffered a stroke in 2010 and was in poor health and suffering from stress and depression.
She added: “Since this offending, he has been a man who has worked hard for his family. He will not appear before the court again.”
During the trial, prosecutor Timothy Moores said the assaults had taken place in various places around Basingstoke. The victim had not made a complaint at the time, but after thinking it over, had changed her mind last year.
He said: “In cases like these, it’s far from unusual for people to wait a long time before they feel able to make a formal complaint.”
The court heard that Warner, of Trinidad Close, Popley, Basingstoke, had two previous convictions for arson and assault against his current partner, which related to an incident in 1990 after which he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act for a period of time.
Ms Wiggerham had told the court that Warner was “as straight as a die” and had always been fine with children.
Warner sighed deeply as he was sentenced to a total of two years and nine months in jail – 27 months for one charge of indecent assault, nine months for the other count of indecent assault, to run concurrently, and six months for the count of indecency with a child, to run consecutively. Warner has also been put on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.