February 2006

A PREDATORY paedophile who repeatedly abused a 12-year-old girl shortly after being released from prison has been jailed for 10-and-a-half years.

Terence Thatcher, 38, made contact with the mother of the girl over an internet chat site and “charmed” his way into her life, said a judge.

That was less than four weeks after being released early from a four-year sentence for indecent assault.

He learned immediately that she had a daughter, and although he did not meet the girl for almost a year he subtly groomed her by sending her expensive presents, while conducting a long distance relationship with her mother, Luton Crown Court was told.

Then on the first day he met her he set up a hidden video camera to film her undressing, said prosecutor Mark Wyeth.

Within days he was indecently touching her and was then repeatedly abusing her and photographing her at holiday homes he rented.

He even took her and a young friend to a Busted concert, but then made the girl feel obliged to do something for him in turn for the treats he was giving her.

The court heard that while in prison the last time he had undergone sex therapy work, and was on prison licence with strict conditions, which he appeared to be complying with.

But when the fresh allegations came to light, police seized six computers he had access to and found more than 10,000 indecent images, including some of the victim of his sex abuse.

There were a further 170,000 images that had not been possible to examine.

Thatcher, who was housed in Biggleswade on his release from prison in June 2003, pleaded guilty to six charges of sexual assault between July 2004 and January 2005. He asked for 35 offences of taking and making indecent images of children to be taken into consideration.

Mr Wyeth said Thatcher’s last sentence included a six-year extended licence which was intended to protect young girls after his release from prison.

Judge John Bevan QC told him last Thursday that he must first serve four-and-a-half years of that sentence before starting a six-year sentence for the new offences.

He will then be on licence for a further six years. He will also be subject to restrictions on his contact with children for the rest of his life.

The court was told that the girl and her mother lived abroad and Thatcher told her he could not travel to see her because he was on probation for attacking an 18-year-old boy. He assured her he had never been to prison.

Judge Bevan said: “If you had told her the truth she would never have let you anywhere near her daughter.

“Through lies and charm you worked on the affections of the girl’s mother and then set about grooming her daughter.

“You are an active, persistent, predatory, dangerous abuser of children. You made no real attempt to resist your urges and in my view you remain a danger to young girls.”

Thatcher also had a previous conviction in 1993 for indecent assault, and another for sending obscene material.

Mr Wyeth said that in his police interview Thatcher admitted he was attracted to naive girls aged 13 to 18, but images on his computer included many of much younger children.