July 2020

Paedophile who went to school in Malvern grope girl aged 9

A pervert who repeatedly groped a nine-year-old girl and ‘bribed’ her to take off her clothes so he could squeeze her breasts is now behind bars.

Stephen Ross admitted three counts of sexual against a girl under 13 when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Wednesday, acts which have left the girl distrustful of adults and suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was just nine years old when she was touched on the breasts, bottom and between the legs by the 59-year-old of Shenstone Close, Bromsgrove.

The offences took place at various locations, including in Malvern, between June 30, 2016 and December 1, 2016.

Timothy Sapwell, prosecuting, said in an interview the girl had said ‘she just wanted it to stop’ after he touched her breasts over her clothing and touched her bottom.

Mr Sapwell also said the defendant had ‘put his hands between her legs and attempted to feel her there’ but she pulled his hand away.

Ross, who went to school in Malvern, also asked her to lift up her top in exchange for a gift before touching and squeezing her breasts over her bra.

In a victim personal statement she said, since the assaults, she had ‘become wary of older people’, ‘gets anxious when alone’ and ‘struggles to socialise’.

“She says she is afraid of going out in case something bad happens to her,” said Mr Sapwell.

The prosecutor added: “She hopes it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The court also heard that she had suffered anxiety and panic attacks.

Ross initially denied that the sexual assaults had taken place, entering a not guilty plea on March 11 but changed his plea to guilty on June 10 so the girl and other witnesses were not required to give evidence.

Richard Hull, defending, said there was now ‘an acceptance of responsibility’ and acknowledged that there had been ‘an abuse of trust and grooming behaviour’. However, he asked the judge if any prison sentence would be suspended, describing Ross as someone with whom the probation service had indicated they could work.

Judge Nicolas Cartwright told the defendant that though he did not have aggravating previous convictions, ‘you cannot claim to be a man of previous impeccable character’.

He described the offences as sexual touching and ‘repeated offending’.

The judge said of one particular occasion: “You had effectively bribed her to lift her t-shirt up, exposing her bra.”

Judge Cartwright reduced the sentence from three years to 32 months to reflect the impact of a more restrictive prison regime due to coronavirus.

He then further reduced the sentence by 20 per cent to reflect his guilty plea.

In total Ross was jailed for 25 months. Judge Cartwright told the defendant: “Appropriate punishment can only be met by immediate custody for a case of this kind because of the need for a deterrent sentence.”

The judge also imposed a sexual harm prevention order which restricts the defendant’s contact with children and controls his use of devices capable of accessing the internet.

He is not to have any contact, directly or indirectly with the victim.