June 2016

Babysitter jailed in Plymouth for sexually abusing siblings 20 years ago

A babysitter has been jailed for sexually abusing a brother and sister more than 20 years ago.

Shaun Burton, aged 40, groomed the horse-loving young girl by encouraging her to ride on his back in return for sexual favours.

The two siblings attended Plymouth Crown Court to finally see justice done two decades late.

Police and prosecutors did not pursue the case when they first complained eight years ago because they believed there was insufficient evidence.

The brave brother, now in his 30s, faced his tormentor to speak in court of his anger and sadness, but also his sense of injustice that Burton had not been prosecuted earlier.

His sister told Burton as he was taken away: “I hope you rot in Hell.”

Judge Ian Lawrie locked Burton up for three years, but said it was a matter of regret that he could not be sent to jail for longer because sentencing guidelines were much lower at the in the late 80s and early 90s.

He said: “This behaviour is appalling. It is predatory and persistent and corrupting. It leaves everlasting damage.”

Burton, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at Plymouth Crown Court to 17 counts of indecency with a child in a Cornish village between 1989 and 1994.

The siblings complained to police in 2008. Burton was interviewed by police but never prosecuted until after he was jailed in 2013 in Cornwall for similar offences.

He was only released in October last year.

Joss Ticehurst, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Burton looked after the siblings several times a week when they were aged five and seven respectively.

He added that they were regularly abused. Burton persuaded them to touch him indecently and encouraged them to inform indecent acts upon him over five years.

Some of the contact would now be classed as rape, the court heard.

Mr Ticehurst said the horse-loving girl was encouraged to touch him sexually when she was too young to know what she was doing – in return for “horse rides” on his back.

He added that neither of the children told anyone at the time, but confided in their mother in 2008.

Mr Ticehurst said that police were called, but Burton was not prosecuted due to insufficient evidence.

Michael Green, for Burton, said his only mitigation was guilty pleas at an early stage in the proceedings.


The victim bravely took to the witness stand across an open court to read a statement only yards from his tormentor.

He described how he still experienced flashbacks, and had abused drink and substances to blot out the memories. He also drifted into crime himself.

The brother said: “I rarely sleep at night and am rarely engaged in my life. I get by. Had it not been for a few close friends I doubt that I would have. As of today, I have not drunk for a week and I am adamant that I will continue to stay sober.”

He added: “I felt weak, persecuted and angry for years. I was outraged that the matter was seemingly not worthy of the police’s attention.”

The brother said he became increasingly angry about the lack of any prosecution.

He said: “My only hope is that following the outcome of these events, that I can find a way forward without the self-doubt and anger which has affected my life so far.”

His sister told the court in a much shorter statement directed at Burton and read by the prosecution barrister: “You robbed me of my innocence. I will not let you damage the rest of my life.”