June 2016

Ruthless sex monster jailed for 14 years after abusing Plymouth schoolgirl

20/06/2016 Pic by: Penny Cross Philip Harthill at Plymouth Crown. Reporter: Stuart 07935 959102

A ruthless sex monster has been jailed for 14 years for abusing and trying to rape a schoolgirl more than 20 years ago.

Evil Phillip Harthill, aged 56, repeatedly touched the child indecently – sometimes with other youngsters in the room

A judge told him that he groomed and exploited the girl over four or five years when she was aged between seven and 11.

Harthill, in his 20s, told the child that she would be taken away from her parents if she told anyone what he was doing, a jury at Plymouth Crown Court decided.

Sentencing him to 14 years in prison, Judge Ian Lawrie told the defendant: “In the most ruthless fashion imaginable, you exploited this girl’s ignorance of life and innocence over a number of years. You persistently pursued her for sex.

The court heard that the victim has struggled throughout her life to come to terms with what had happened.

She had undergone counselling and was still suffering nightmares.

Harthill, of Langley Crescent in Southway, spent five days on trial after denying nine charges dating back to between 1987 and 1993.

The jury found him guilty on all counts in just an hour.

Harthill, unemployed at the time, attempted to rape the girl aged under 16 between 1990 and 1993.

He was convicted of six counts of indecent assault and one of gross indecency involving the same youngster over the six years.

The court heard that two of the indecent assault charges each related to 10 separate incidents.

The jury heard that Harthill invited children back to his Barne Barton flat and gave them alcohol and cigarettes.

His victim, who first went there with her brother, said he used sweet-looking dogs to lure her back to the flat several times a week.

Harthill gave her brother and friends money to buy sweets so he could be alone with her.

He abused her when they were on their own but also touched her indecently underneath the bedclothes while other children watched television in the room.

The woman told the court that the abuse “made her stomach turn”.

Harthill went on to try and rape her when she was aged 10 or 11.

The court heard that the police were not called until 2011.

Judge Lawrie said that Harthill, who admitted to being confused during his evidence, had been “like a rabbit caught in the headlights” as he faced up to what he had done.

He added that the offences had a deep psychological impact on his victim.

Judge Lawrie praised the courage of the victim for coming forward and giving what he called compelling evidence from behind a screen in court.

Harthill, who is likely to spend seven years behind bars, will be on the Sex Offender Register for life