May 2016

Suspended sentence for retired sex offender policeman

A RETIRED policeman who groped a woman visiting his home some years after he had indecently assaulted a young girl has escaped with a suspended prison sentence.

Michael Colledge had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to various charges of indecently assaulting the girl in the early 80s and one of indecently assaulting the woman in 2003.

Colledge, aged 73, of Waverley Avenue, Nuneaton, was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years, with supervision, and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Prosecutor Simon Hunka said the offences against the girl, who is now a woman in her 40s, date back to the 1980s when Colledge was a serving policeman.

There had been an incident when the girl was seven when she and her mother were at his home and, with her mother out of the room, he pulled her on top of him as he lay on the sofa.

And when the same girl was 13 and 14 Colledge, who had a drink problem, took opportunities when he saw her to smack her on the bottom or grab at her breasts.

Nothing was reported to the police at the time, and it was only when she was attending a therapy session in February last year that his victim saw him at the same centre she was attending.

She became concerned because Colledge was running spiritualist sessions for vulnerable people, and spoke to someone about her concerns.

Mr Hunka said it then emerged that that woman had also been indecently assaulted, but as an adult, by Colledge.

In an incident dating back to 2001 or 2002 the woman had been visiting Colledge’s wife, who was suffering from a brain tumour at the time, and went into the kitchen to get a drink.

“He came up behind her and pushed her against the wall and put his hand into her dress and tried to touch her breast and kiss her. She could smell alcohol on his breath.”

After the two women had spoken to each-other the matters were reported to the police, and Colledge was arrested in June last year.

When he was interviewed he said that at the time of the early incidents he was alcohol-dependent and on anti-depressants, and accepted it was ‘a possibility,’ added Mr Hunka.

Addressing Colledge’s barrister Daniel Oscroft, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones said: “The question is, should there be a consecutive sentence for the final count, and does it have to be an immediate sentence?”

Mr Oscroft said: “He wants me to apologise to both of them. He is thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour. He can offer no good explanation for it.

“During the 1970s and 80s this man was a police officer, until he was discharged on medical grounds in 1990.

“He had spent a number of years on plain-clothed duty, spending a lot of time in pubs associating with people.

Throughout that time he was suffering from depression and what would now be referred to as alcoholism, drinking something like 20 pints a day.”

And Mr Oscroft said that at the time of the last offence Colledge was acting as his wife’s full-time carer and suffering from the stress of looking after her.

“Since the mid-2000s he gave up drinking, which has caused him to reflect on his behaviour.

“He is now an old man, and has ongoing health issues. He has lost his wife, but he does maintain a good relationship with his daughter and grandchildren.”

Judge Griffith-Jones told Colledge: “The fact that many years have passed and you do now present as an old man, and you have health problems, cannot save you, because it’s often the case that these things come to light when people are old.

“This case clearly crosses the custody threshold, and if there was any doubt about it, I’m afraid the final count against someone again subjected to a miserable sexual approach when you were affected by drink, confirms it.

“You made unwelcome advances towards her when she was in your house and vulnerable.”

The judge imposed consecutive nine-month sentences for the offences against the girl and against the woman – but added that it was just possible to suspend them.