Victim speaks as child sex offender is jailed: “You need to overcome your instincts”
A child sex assault victim made an emotional plea directly to his attacker in court today – imploring him to undergo rehab to stop him damaging other young lives.
The victim, now a man in his early twenties, was a boy aged under 12 when he was molested by serial sex offender Paul Clarke at a house in Witcombe in the late 1990s.
At the time of the offence Clarke, now 52, already had a past conviction for a sex assault on his record and he later went on to commit more similar offences in Alicante, Spain, where he was jailed for four years two months in October 2012.
It was when Clarke was returned to the UK to complete his Spanish sentence at Wandsworth jail under an EU repatriation scheme that he was arrested and charged with the Witcombe offence
At Gloucester Crown Court today Clarke, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the boy between August 1997 and August 2000 and he was jailed for 21 months.
During the hearing his victim went into the witness box to describe the effect the offence has had on his life ever since and he became tearful as he turned to Clarke in the dock and spoke directly to him.
“I would like you to understand the damage and impact this has had on me and consider engaging in a rehab programme.” he said. “You need to overcome your instincts because of the damage you are inflicting on other people. It is very profound.”
Clarke looked back at the man and nodded.
The victim told Judge William Hart that for years after the assault he suppressed it in his mind.
But in more recent years it had started to have a ‘deeply traumatic effect on my life,’ he said,
It had even affected his university degree course, disrupting his final exams and causing him to defer them for a year, he added.
“In the University library one day I read about paedophilia and had a panic attac. On another occasion a friend of mine made a joke about paedophiles and I erupted in tears as all the old emotions came to the surface along with a new found fear that because I had been abused it would lead to me wanting to abuse. “
He said he had been ‘fragile, anxious, lacking in self confidence’ for years as a result of the offence.
“I feel it had an effect on me throughout my adult life,” he said. “I have done a lot to overcome it with meditation but I’m sure I will have to deal with it again in years to come.”
Prosecutor Jonathan Stanniland said the assault happened when Clarke was visiting the house.
“The defendant was in the living room,” said Mr Stanniland. “He asked the boy to come over to him on the pretext of a playing a tickling game. He put the boy on his lap, pulled down his trousers and pants and ran his hands over his bottom.
“Mercifully, the abuse ended there.
“The boy finally told his mother about it in 2006 and then spoke to the police.”
Mr Stanniland said Clarke had a 1990 conviction for taking indecent photos of children and in January 1996 for three offences of indecent assault on a boy under 14 he received 30 months jail in Portsmouth.
He then moved to France and Spain and on 5th Oct 2012 was jailed for four years two months at Alicante Provincial Court for assaulting a 13 year old boy, possessing indecent photos of children and causing or procuring cruelty to a child. He had been found to have 54,000 child porn images on his laptop.
Last September he was transferred to Wandsworth prison from Spain and was then charged with the Witcombe offence.
Gareth James, defending, submitted that the offence was ‘relatively minor’ although he accepted it had greatly affected the victim.
“It is enlightening to hear the victim speak to the court of the effect it has had on him rather than seeing it on paper in black and white,” he said. “It brings it home to all of us.
“My client says, however, that he cannot recall the incident although he does not dispute at all what the victim has said.”
As well as the jail term, Clarke was ordered to sign the sex offender register for ten years and an indefinite sexual harm prevention order was made against him.