May 2016

Former Tiverton plumber is jailed for abusing girl as she sat on his lap playing computer games

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A former plumber has been jailed for abusing a girl as she sat on his lap playing computer games.

Stephen Cracknell touched the girl when she was aged just ten and had been lured into his room at a house in Tiverton to play games including Football Manager.

He was jailed at Exeter Crown Court after a Judge told him he had inflicted severe psychological harm on the victim, who has problems allowing some sorts of physical contact with her partner more than ten years after she suffered the abuse.

The girl did not tell anyone at the time and made her first disclosures about two years later to a stranger during an internet chat.

Her mother learned of the abuse because she was monitoring her daughter’s online activities but the victim was too scared and confused to tell police the truth at the time.

Cracknell, aged 59, escaped justice for a decade before the victim felt strong enough to go back to the police and tell them the truth.

He was found guilty after the jury at Exeter Crown Court watched a video recorded interview in which she broke down in tears every few minutes. She sobbed as she gave evidence from behind a screen in the courtroom.

Cracknell formerly of Tiverton but now living at Windmill Road, Coventry, denied five counts of sexual assault by touching but was found guilty and jailed for four years and six months by Recorder Mr Martin Meeke, QC.

He told him:”I am satisfied that having seen the complainant give evidence at some length that her childhood was significantly blighted by your offending and she has suffered significant psychological damage.

“We saw her tears and it is easy to understand the difficulties she now experiences in relating to her partner and not being able to let him touch her breasts.”

During a four day case the prosecution say he abused the girl a number of times, including occasions when she sat on his knee while playing on a computer in his bedroom.

She told the jury she tried to bury her experiences but eventually felt she had to report what had happened to her as a child.

Cracknell denied there had been any inappropriate physical contact.