June 2015

Married mechanic, 54, who blamed schoolgirl’s choice of clothes for sex assault avoids jail term

A married 54-year-old who sexually assaulted a schoolgirl decades younger than him blamed the clothes she wore, a court has heard.

Mechanic Gareth Lewis tried to kiss the young teen, touched her and sent explicit messages to her.

Lewis of Ferndale Road, Tylorstown finally admitted three charges of sexual assault but only after he had made the girl wait “many, many months” fearing she would have to give evidence because he initially denied any wrongdoing.

During his sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge David Wynn Morgan told Lewis: “You are nearly 55 years old and she is 40 years younger than you.

“What you did was disgusting – taking advantage to indulge your own sexual gratification.

“You treated her as an object, not as a person.

“You gave no thought to her age or to the consequence of your actions which has been to have her trust impaired, her innocence taken away and her natural, normal development spoiled.”

The judge said although his actions had not been the most serious the court heard, “the damage is still done”.

Probation reports about Lewis suggested he had “still not grasped” the effect of his actions, the judge was told.

“You even suggest she may be to blame because of the way she was dressed, I want to make it clear your victim is in no way to blame for what you did”.

He said Lewis had told the child to delete his messages and not to tell anyone.

Prosecutor Suzanne Thomas said he was known in his small valley community as somebody who restored old vehicles in a garage near his home.

The schoolgirl thought she could trust him and at first thought he was joking when he asked to kiss her.

He later sent her text messages saying “You are really beautiful.”

The girl showed his text messages to an adult friend and was persuaded to tell her mum.

Lewis was arrested the same night.

He had tried to claim others had access to his phone – before finally confessing.

Barrister Alex Greenwood, representing Lewis, said: “He’s ashamed of his own stupidity- he should have known better”.

In a statement, the victim said: “I was so scared I couldn’t go to school.

“All my family say I’ve changed – I have a temper and didn’t use to, I failed some exams, I feel depressed and upset and I’m worried about what will happen after the court case.”

“I feel like he’s obsessed with me” she said.

Judge Morgan sentenced him to a community order with sex offender’s treatment.

The judge said any immediate prison sentence would see him released in a matter of months, but the community order would last three years.

Lewis will have to register as a sex offender for five years and is banned from contacting the girl again.