March 2020

Incest dad who preyed on teenage daughter is jailed

A depraved dad caught on CCTV performing a sex act on his long-lost teen daughter has been jailed.

Robert Cole, 42, was reunited with daughter Justine Henley in 2018 after her 18th birthday – and 15 years after she was taken from his care and placed first with her grandparents before staying with a series of foster carers.

Swindon Crown Court heard the girl, now 19, had been bullied at school and had asked to be put in touch with her birth father after her foster dad left her adopted home.

Cole, who now had other children by his wife of 17 years, was keen to meet his estranged daughter.

The pair hit it off, but the relationship quickly became darker.

Prosecutor Rob Welling said Henley’s foster mum had contacted police after the teen asked if it was illegal to have sex with a family member.

A constable spoke to the pair at Cole’s home in Chippenham, warning them that incest was a crime. Cole’s wife also sensed her husband and his daughter were getting too close and warned him off.

The dad and daughter attempted to have sex for the first time on December 20, 2019 – Henley’s 19th birthday.

Their illicit liaisons were captured on CCTV at his house.

Texts between them revealed the dad saying he would leave his wife, even sending the girl a picture of an engagement ring in an apparent promise of his intentions towards Henley.

Mr Welling said the girl was vulnerable. She suffered from depression, had been passed from family to family as a child, was significantly overweight and had been bullied at school.

“She was in many ways at the beginning of that relationship, if I can put it in those terms, vulnerable. The starting, default point for any father – even if there was a sense she was actually encouraging him – should have been discouragement on his part,” he said.

Cole, formerly of Hill Rise, Chippenham, and Henley, of Hilperton, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with an adult relative.

Jailing the dad for 18 months, Judge Jason Taylor QC acknowledged that he had been charged alongside his daughter. But he said: “I make it plain at the outset that while you will both stand in the dock albeit at different times your positions are not equal.

“She was vulnerable and you preyed on those vulnerabilities when as the adult you should have protected her not least from herself. That makes your offending far more serious.”

The judge added: “I have little hesitation in concluding that she has been and will continue to be psychologically damaged by these events, even if she can’t fully process it herself right now. These consequences will be long lasting, perhaps lifelong lasting and they will make the indignity of being tested for pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections pale into insignificance.”

Henley received a 12-month community order with 60 hours of unpaid work and 24 rehabilitation activity days.