February 2015

Hayle man who admitted sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl in a barn near Penzance has walked free from court

Christopher Prowse leaving Truro Crown Court.

Christopher Prowse, 60, forced the child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to touch him intimately and then indecently assaulted her, Truro Crown Court heard at his trial.

Joanna Martin, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the victim, now an adult, had not spoken about the incident until much later in life.

She said in about 2004 the woman confronted Prowse, of Riviere Towans, Phillack, who admitted that it had happened.

The woman agreed not to say anything further or go to the police but some years later began to be abused by members or Prowse’s family who branded her a liar.

On Thursday, the day after his trial started, Prowse changed his pleas and admitted indecency with a child and indecently assaulting a child on a date between 1974 and 1979.

In a victim statement, which was read out in court, the woman said she became quiet following the incident and never discussed it because Prowse had told her that if she told anyone she would get into trouble.

She said she had struggled with the “horrible memories” and the incident had affected her relationships.

“I will never fully know how my life and feelings would have been different had it not been for Christopher Prowse,” she said.

“It was very wrong for him to abuse me at the age of 5 and I have always lived with it.

“I now have grandchildren and I have really seen what a normal childhood is.

“I would like to end this whole matter and when this case is over I will try and move on with living my life through my family.”

Sarah Vince, for the defence, said Prowse accepted what had happened and was sorry for it.

She said: “The meeting that [the woman] speaks about in around 2004 did happen and Mr Prowse did admit at that time what had happened, and she showed him compassion for which he was grateful and that compassion adds to his remorse and regret for being here today.”

Sentencing, Judge Simon Carr said the incident had been “disgraceful”.

“You deliberately assaulted a five-year-old child,” he said. “That would have been terrifying for her as it would have been confusing and embarrassing.”

He said the victim had shown him “enormous compassion” by not going to the police in the mid-2000s but that when the matter became known locally, Prowse had acted in a cowardly way by denying it – an action which led some people to consider the woman a liar.

Prowse was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for 24 months and was ordered to pay £1,000 towards the costs of the prosecution. He was also ordered to sign the sex offender’s register