June 2013

Former prison worker is behind bars himself after child sex conviction


A PRISON worker convicted of child sex offences is now behind bars himself after his barrister told a court: “His life is in ashes.”

John Cornwell, 53, was jailed for six years for a string of serious offences against girls – some of which stretch back to the 1990s.

Judge George Moorhouse told the married father that he had caused “untold misery” to his victims who will struggle to get over the abuse.

Cornwell, of West Auckland Road, Darlington, was also put on the sex offenders’ register for life and banned from working with children.

He was sacked from his job as a support officer at Northallerton Young Offenders’ Institution, North Yorkshire, after his conviction.

He was found guilty last month of four charges of sexual and indecent assault, and two of sexual activity in the presence of a child. TeessideCrown Court heard how he still maintains his innocence, and claims his one of his accusers encouraged others to make allegations.

Two of the girls claimed he watched adult films in front of them, and one told the court he “lifted his willy up and down” while he did.

Cornwell admitted during his trial that he had viewed hardcore pornography, but insisted it was some time ago and when he was alone.

The court heard that he twice dodged sex crimes investigations in the past when the girls were persuaded not to go to police to complain.

His barrister, Tom Mitchell, said: “His life is in ashes. You could say he has brought it upon himself, but that is still personal mitigation.

“What is left for him when he is released from custody, we don’t know. Conviction brings its own punishment when you look at the job he had.

“It is the fact of custody not the length that matters for somebody who goes to prison for the firs time.

“If he was of previous bad character, you could throw away the key, but he’s not.”

Judge Moorhouse also banned Cornwell from having unsupervised contact with under-16s as part of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO).

He said: “It is quite clear from the victims’ statements that untold misery has been caused. The effect will no doubt remain in their minds.”

May 2013

Darlington prison worker found guilty of sex crimes

Darlington prison worker found guilty of sex crimes

A PRISON worker is today facing a lengthy spell behind bars himself after being convicted of a string of serious sex crimes against girls.

John Cornwell will learn his fate next month when he returns to Teesside Crown Court to be sentenced – but was warned to expect jail.

The Darlington man, 53, was released on bail until his next appearance so probation workers can prepare background reports on him.

After being convicted of ten of the 13 charges he faced, Cornwell was told by Judge George Moorhouse: “These are very serious matters.”

During a nine-day case, the jury heard how some of the allegations went as far back as the 1990s – but Cornwell disputed them all.

He suggested they were part of a vendetta and claimed one of his accusers deliberately encouraged the others to tell lies against him.

Two of the girls claimed he watched adult films in front of them.

Mr Cornwell, of West Auckland Road, admitted viewing hardcore pornography but said that was some time ago and when he was alone.

During the trial, he denied deliberately deleting the footage from his computer shortly before police seized his computer last May.

He told the jury that it must have been wiped off when he innocently installed software which was designed to speed up his machine.

The court heard that Cornwell twice dodged sex crimes investigations in the past when the girls were persuaded not to go to police.

Prosecutor Richard Bennett said the claims were supported by police discoveries at his home after complaints were finally made last March.

During a search of the property, pornographic videos were found which appeared to back up the claims the girls made.

Mr Bennett said matters resurfaced on New Year’s Eve 2011, and official complaints were finally made to police several months later.

Cornwell, a support officer at Northallerton Prison and Young Offenders’ Institution, was cleared of two sexual assaults and an indecent assault.

He was found guilty of four charges each of sexual assault and indecent assault, and two of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

The jury of seven men and five women spent a total of more than ten hours over three days deliberating on the charges.