May 2016

Bedworth baker is jailed and told to register as sex offender

A BEDWORTH baker who sexually abused a teenage boy in the preparation room of his shop more than 20 years ago has been jailed and ordered to register as a sex offender.

Andrew Whitehead, aged 56, of Coventry Road, Bedworth, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to indecently assaulting the boy in the early 90s.

He also pleaded guilty to eight charges of gross indecency by encouraging the boy, then in his early teens, to remove his clothing and perform a sex act while he did the same.

Whitehead was jailed for 20 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Prosecutor John Hallissey said the boy would sometimes go into Whitehead’s shop in Bedworth on his way home from school.

When he was 12 and Whitehead saw him on his own, he tickled him – and then pinned his arms to his side and put one hand down the boy’s trousers and groped him, telling him: “I’ve been waiting for you to grow up.”

Some weeks later the boy went to Whitehead’s shop at a time when other staff members had left, and Whitehead took him upstairs to the preparation area, which the boy recalled was fitted out with stainless-steel tables.

Asking him if he knew how to perform a particular sex act, Whitehead gave him a soft-core pornographic magazine and encouraged him to take off his trousers and pants.

Whitehead then removed his own trousers and underwear and began to perform a sex act, encouraging the youngster to do the same, which he said made him feel ’embarrassed’.

And before he left Whitehead gave him a set of playing cards with naked women on them.

After that similar activities took place on a number of occasions, mainly at the bakery, and Whitehead gave him money to get men’s magazines from a local shop for them to look at.

“On one occasion the defendant tried to escalate his behaviour, asking the boy to give him oral sex.

“He refused, and the defendant said: ‘Not even for £50?’ But he still refused,” added Mr Hallissey.

Martin Liddiard, defending, said the incidents stopped naturally, and pointed out: “We’re dealing with events now which took place more than 21 years ago, and he hasn’t been involved in anything else.

“He is plainly a very caring man in relation to his family, and he’s terrified about how his father will manage because he’s the one who looks after him.

“In relation to the business he has made an effort in the last four to six weeks to see how the business does if he takes a step away from it.

“He does ten or 11 hours six days a week, and he has an element of dread that that business, which has been going for 30-plus years, may not survive if he’s absent for a long period.”

Before sentencing Whitehead, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones observed that at the time the maximum sentences for the offences were much less than they are now.

And he said: “In approaching this sentence I have taken into account the maxima which were applicable at the time, and have also considered the current guidelines.”

And he pointed out that if he was dealing with Whitehead for recent offences the sentencing bracket would have been two to six years, with a ‘starting point’ of three years.

Judge Griffith-Jones told Whitehead: “I treat you as a man of previous good character, and of positive good character, in that you have worked hard all your life and established a good business, and you have been a good son to your infirm father.

“I also take into account your remorse and your pleas of guilty, but I am simply not able to pass over this.

“This course of activity is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified. The victim was young and vulnerable, and there was an element of grooming.”

The judge also imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order under which Whitehead is banned from having unsupervised contact with any child for ten years, other than that which is incidental in the course of everyday life – which he was told did not prevent him from serving a child in the shop.