November 2020

Paedophile left victim suicidal after six-year campaign of ‘appalling’ sexual abuse

A paedophile is starting a jail term of almost six years for a campaign of sex abuse against two girls.

Brian Gardiner abused one of his victims for several years, regularly exposing himself to her and trying to force her to touch his genitals.

One on occasion he sexually assaulted her before she managed to push him away.

Teesside Crown Court heard the abuse has left her with lasting psychological issues, and at one stage she tried to commit suicide.

She said she did not report Gardiner’s crimes earlier in fear she would not be believed.

But even after plucking up the courage to report him, she continued to suffer as the case took another three and a half years to reach the sentencing stage.

“The process following the report caused me a great deal of stress,” she said in a victim impact statement.

“I feel like I have a lot of hate which I can’t express. I suffer from social anxiety and hate being around people unless I know them very well.

“I don’t think I am the person I would have been if Brian Gardiner hadn’t chosen to do what he did to me.”

Gardiner, of Ragpath Lane in Stockton, was charged with ten offences including engaging in sexual activity with a child, sex assault of a child under 13, sex assault of a child aged between 13 and 15 years and causing or inciting sexual activity with a child.

In interview, Gardiner admitted the charges against the girl and also admitted asking another child to touch his genitals when she was only nine or ten years old.

At sentencing on Friday, Judge Deborah Sherwin said the delay in bringing the case to sentencing was “wholly unacceptable”.

“I can’t for the life of me understand why, in a case like this, there would be a three-year delay between complaints being made – and admissions being made – to reaching this stage,” she told the court.

“The whole thing just seems utterly inexcusable.”

The judge was asked to give credit for Gardiner’s early admissions to his crimes against the girls.

She described his offending as “appalling” and told him: “She [the victim] should not feel guilty in any way, the only person who is guilty is you.”

She jailed him for five years and 10 months and made him the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for life.