December 2015

Paedophile jailed for 17 years for attacks on three children


A “PREDATORY paedophile” has been jailed for 17 years for raping and sexually assaulting the three children of a woman he befriended within months of being freed from prison for a previous sexual offence.

Neil Burns has been disowned by his parents and banned from seeing his own child by a former partner after being found guilty by a jury of 13 attacks on vulnerable boys and girls aged under 13.

Burns, 31, of High Street, Wellington, was said to be too “distressed” to attend his sentencing at Taunton Crown Court on Friday for seven counts of rape, four of sexual assault and two of assault by penetration.

He had used a dating website to wheedle his way into the affections of his victims’ mother, a Highbridge woman of “limited intellect”, who actually “acted together” with him on occasions, while some of the children were present during some of the attacks on their siblings, the court was told.

Patrick Mason, defending, said it was “impossible to offer any mitigation in relation to the offences” as Burns had been “under the duvet within a few weeks of making the children’s acquaintance”.

He added: “He went from one to the other, boys and girls, in continuous fashion.”

Mr Mason said Burns had started offending in his late 20s, but his claims that any risk to society would be “highly managed” were dismissed by the judge, who pointed out that he had re-offended within months of being released from prison for abusing a girl of under eight.

Judge David Ticehurst jailed Burns for 17 years for the rapes, with an extended licence of four years, six years (concurrent) for the sexual assaults and ten years (concurrent) for the assaults by penetration.

He will also be subject to a sexual harm provision order and must sign the sexual offenders’ register for life. He was ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge.

The judge described Burns’s offences as “calculated and wicked”, adding: “This was an abuse of their limited intellect.

“There was a significant degree of planning in that he targeted this particular family.

“There was an element of grooming – he got close to the family, then went on outings and bought them presents. Such ‘friendliness’ is bound to be seen as something attractive and was part of the grooming process.”

He added: “I am satisfied that there is a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm. He’s a predatory paedophile.”