October 2015

Wheelchair-bound woman jailed for sexually abusing schoolgirl

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The former club secretary of a Suffolk band, who sexually assaulted a schoolgirl nearly two decades ago, has been jailed for 18 months.

Wheelchair-bound Janess Gilpin befriended the teenager and a sexual relationship developed after Gilpin told the girl she loved her, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Kissing had progressed to early morning sexual trysts at Gilpin’s home and sexual activity had also taken place in a toilet cubicle in a park, said Richard Scott, prosecuting.

He said that Gilpin had fondled the girls breasts and touched her intimately and this was reciprocated.

During the relationship Gilpin had given the girl a ring with “I love you” engraved on it, said Mr Scott.

The offences came to light after the victim contacted Gilpin because she had concerns about her sexuality and Gilpin told her she had been concerned that the police might knock at her door.

“It became clear and crystallised in her mind that what had gone on was wrong and could be described as abuse,” said Mr Scott.

Gilpin, 56, of Second Avenue, Sudbury, admitted three charges of indecent assault. In addition to being jailed for 18 months she was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register.

Jailing her Judge Rupert Overbury said she had abused a child for her own sexual gratification.

“You groomed her for your own sexual purposes. This was done slowly and deliberately with some pre-meditation,” said the judge.

He said that as a result of the abuse, the victim had suffered nightmares and had been receiving counselling.

He described the offences as “extremely serious” and said it would send out the wrong message if he was to suspend the prison sentence.

Joanne Eley for Gilpin said the offences took place nearly two decades ago and there had been no further offending since then.

She said Gilpin had multiple sclerosis and was wheelchair bound, needing 24 hour care.

Gilpin’s victim said she reported her to police when she saw Gilpin’s photo on Facebook and read of her intention to take part in an event where children would be present.

The woman said: “It set alarms bells off with me. The thought of her being involved really frightened me.

“I came forward to protect other people.

“I’m pleased she has been convicted and I have got her away from children.

“It’s been a long time and hopefully this is closure.

“I have had counselling over the years to deal with it and was in a really good place.

“I’m glad I have done this and the police have been amazing. I can’t fault them with all the things they had in place, the help, the support groups … it’s just amazing.”

Gilpin was a volunteer at Tudor Primary School in Tudor Road, Sudbury, before her arrest.

Following Gilpin’s guilty pleas last month, headteacher Martin James sent a letter to parents re-assuring them the offences were nothing to do with any children at the school.

After Gilpin’s sentencing Tudor Primary School issued a statement which read: “The school is aware of the recent conviction of Mrs Gilpin who previously worked as a volunteer at our school.

“This conviction relates to historical crimes that are nothing to do with our school.

“We have worked closely with safeguarding teams – taking advice from the police, Ofsted and the local authority.

“This advice included advising Mrs Gilpin that she would not be allowed on school grounds whilst this investigation took place. This condition was strictly adhered to.

“The safeguarding of our children is paramount and we acted quickly and decisively to ensure that our children were protected.”

September 2015

Woman involved in running Suffolk band admits three indecent assaults on a girl

A woman who helped run a Suffolk band is facing the prospect of prison after admitting three sex assaults on a girl.

Janess Gilpin, of Second Avenue, Sudbury, pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault when she appeared at a hearing before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

The 56-year-old, who has multiple sclerosis, had entered a not guilty plea to all the charges on Friday but another hearing was requested for this week.

Prior to Gilpin entering her admissions of guilt prosecutor Richard Scott told the court the Crown Prosecution Service accepted her basis of plea, although this was not read out in court.

Mr Scott said the CPS was doing so after consultation with the complainant.

The offences occurred some time ago and the girl involved was said to be under the age of 16 at the time.

The court heard the maximum sentence for the charges was 10 years’ imprisonment.

The closest sentencing guidelines to the offences had a starting point of five years’ imprisonment with a range of four to 10 years.

Jo Eley, representing Gilpin, said her client had significant health issues.

Ms Eley added that Gilpin had no previous convictions, police cautions or reprimands.

Judge David Goodin was asked to consider adjourning sentencing for a pre-sentence report to be compiled by the probation service to assist the sentencing judge.

Ms Eley said Gilpin’s health was deteriorating quite rapidly and evidence would be sought from a neurological nurse in the compilation of the report.

Gilpin also has a number of other health conditions.

The court heard it was an unusual case because of Gilpin’s age and what was said to be her “fast deteriorating illness”.

However, due to sentencing guidelines the judge must have “an eye on immediate custody”.

Judge Goodin adjourned Gilpin’s sentencing to October 15.

The judge told her: “Understand quite clearly a sentence of immediate custody will be very much at the forefront of the judge’s mind.”

Before releasing Gilpin on bail Judge Goodin said she would immediately be subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act. The length of time will be determined on her sentencing.