June 2013

Pervert from Barnoldswick jailed over grooming of vulnerable schoolgirl

John Whitehouse

A “dangerous” pervert who groomed and repeatedly had sex with a vulnerable Pendle schoolgirl, has been given a nine year extended sentence.

Burnley Crown Court heard how married father-of-three John Whitehouse, 40, had chatted to the troubled 14-year-old on the internet before they had sex at her home after she had been sent home from school ill. They also had intercourse in a forest after meeting up at a park in the Colne area.

The teenager, said to have been having problems at school and at home, was to tell police Whitehouse had made her feel “wanted for the first time”.

The hearing was told at the time of the offences, jobless Whitehouse was on bail for allegedly grooming a 12-year-old girl. The 14-year-old eventually told a friend what had gone on, a teacher was informed and police were called. Whitehouse was arrested on February 27, at first on suspicion of rape and asked the police: “Is this a joke?”

The defendant, of Gisburn Road, Barnoldswick, admitted eight counts of sexual activity with a child, committed over three weeks February. He was locked up for five years, received four years’ extended licence, was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life, got an indefinite sexual offences prevention order and was banned from working with children for life.

Nicholas Courtney, prosecuting, said the girl made Whitehouse well aware of how old she was on the chat site. She told him she was being bullied and had some problems at home. He told her he understood her difficulties and would treat her as an adult.

Whitehead persuaded her to let him go round to her house after she was sent home from school, saying nobody would know and mentioning nothing about his intentions. They had intercourse and took part in sex acts. The pair also had several more sexual encounters, some in the woods.

Mr Courtney said the victim told police Whitehouse had given her a Valentine card, a locket and a bra. When the defendant was questioned by officers, he admitted chatting to her, saying it was because she was unhappy, claimed they had only met up once and that there had been no sexual activity of any kind. He told police the card and locket were to cheer her up. The defendant made no comment when asked about messages on his phone professing love for the teenager. He continued to deny the offences until presented with forensic evidence.

The prosecutor said in her impact statement, the victim said she was confused, blamed herself for what happened, had lost friends and was unable to talk about it. Whitehouse had 11 offences on his record, but no previous sexual offending.

Philip Holden, for Whitehouse, said he had not made threats. It was the first time he had been in custody, he had found it difficult and had tried to self harm. He was more than willing to take part in sex offenders’ courses.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Newell said he found the defendant posed a significant risk of serious harm. There had to be a custodial sentence and it had to be of some length.

The judge said the girl had felt vulnerable and not wanted when Whitehouse made contact with her.He continued: “You knew she was 14. You were 40 years of age at the time. You had your own family. You should have known better.”