October 2002

Babysitter who raped girls jailed

A babysitter who raped and abused two young girls has been jailed for eight years.

Erwin Schmidt, 27, lived at Highbank Hotel homeless hostel in Tulketh Road, Ashton, Preston, when he committed the horrific acts.

He denied the offences but was found guilty of rape and indecent assault at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

Schmidt became friendly with the family after he was introduced to the girls’ father through a friend.

He spent time with the family and eventually became a trusted babysitter for the youngsters, aged eight and nine, at the time of the offences.

But between 1999 and 2001, he raped and abused the young girls at their Preston home.

He later moved to Berwick-upon-Tweed and was arrested in January after one of his victims spoke of the sick acts he performed on her.

Both girls gave evidence via a video link at the Crown Court trial which lasted for five days. One said she was given money by Schmidt after he forced her to have sex with him.

Schmidt persisted in his denial, but the jury rejected his story and convicted him on a unanimous verdict.

He was sentenced to eight years in jail; five for the rape offences and three for indecent assault.

DC Lisa Ingham, from Lancashire Police’s serious crime unit in Hutton, said: “Schmidt was trusted to look after the girls, but he abused his position and breached that trust. He committed horrific sexual acts on them, and later denied the offences.

“Both girls were very brave in coming forward and talking about what has happened to them. We ask all parents to be cautious when allowing people to babysit their children for them who they have not known for a long time.”