March 2021

Paedophile who has refused to speak since extradition to UK a year ago

A paedophile who molested a little girl was extradited from New Zealand to face justice but refused to say a single word.

Cecil John Thorn, 48, has exercised a “vigil of silence” ever since he stepped off a plane in February last year.

That included not saying anything in his defence at a trial when the brave victim described how he repeatedly abused her.

Thorn, from Wirral, was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and three counts of causing or inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity at a trial last month.

Liverpool Crown Court today heard this is the second time he has been convicted of molesting a child, after previously being jailed for eight years in 2013 for similar offences, also in Wirral.

But after serving just three years in prison for those crimes – and when police were already aware of his second victim’s allegations – he was deported back to his native New Zealand, under an early release scheme.

That meant the authorities then had to go through a long extradition process to drag him back to the UK and lock him up all over again.

Thorn, who has been held in custody since his extradition on February 24, 2020, appeared in court via video link from prison.

The clerk asked him to identify himself and Judge Brian Cummings, QC, said: “He doesn’t respond, he never has during these proceedings.”

Thorn, with a bald head, long black beard and wearing a face mask, then sat in silence, with his eyes closed.

Judge Cummings gave him the opportunity to address the court on any of the matters being discussed or to offer any mitigation on his behalf, but Thorn, who didn’t have legal representation, refused to speak.

The court heard he had even refused to talk with the Probation Service for the purpose of a pre-sentence report.

Judge Cummings told Thorn: “You have maintained what has been termed a vigil of silence.”

He said at a previous hearing, a determination was made that Thorn’s silence “was not the result of any medical or mental health incapacity, but rather was voluntary”.

The judge said this was confirmed when shortly before the trial last month, Thorn spoke to staff in the cells to ask whether the trial was going ahead.

Charlotte Kenny, prosecuting, said Thorn was jailed for eight years in July 2013 after he admitted four sexual assaults against a teenage girl.

The predator had confessed in full, after that vulnerable child’s parents discovered that she had been abused by him.

He was deported back to his New Zealand and set free in Wellington in December 2016.

However, his second victim had already come forward to the police in February 2016, around 10 months beforehand.

She told a teacher at school and her mum that she was sexually abused by Thorn, leading to officers being informed.

The second girl revealed Thorn performed a sex act on her and made her perform a sex act on him on multiple occasions.

Police went to speak to Thorn in jail about those allegations, but he made no reply and later that year was flown to the South Pacific.

When arrested by officers in New Zealand in February 2020 and interviewed, Thorn, formerly of Wirral but now of Favona Road, Auckland, again remained silent.

However, Judge Cummings said his “parting words” to a detective “were to the effect that you were now embarking on a vigil of silence”.

The second girl today said Thorn’s abuse had a “devastating effect” on her and it was difficult to put this into words.

Ms Kenny said in a victim statement the child outlined how she lost her self-confidence, had “self-worth issues” and “started to hate her own body”.

The girl self-harmed, couldn’t stop thinking about her ordeal and found it very difficult having to relive it when she gave evidence during the trial.

Ms Kenny said the girl felt “incredibly embarrassed” about what happened to her, even though it wasn’t her fault, adding: “It made her feel worthless.”

The prosecutor said: “She couldn’t understand why it was that it was done to her.”

The girl’s mum, who was present in court with her daughter today, also made a statement, in which she said her child had become “withdrawn”.

Ms Kenny said she described her daughter trying to take an overdose and how concerned she was about leaving the girl on her own as a result.

The prosecutor said the trial was a constant worry for the family, but now the mum “expresses the hope that they can move on”.

Judge Cummings said: “As do I.”

The judge said Thorn could have disclosed his abuse of the second girl when in prison for the abuse of the first girl.

He told him any “additional strain” that may have resulted from what happened since was “entirely of your own making”.

Judge Cummings said: “You have blighted the lives of two young girls. The consequences for you must inevitably be severe.”

The judge said he was an “offender of particular concern” and jailed him for 10 years, with an extended one year on licence.

This means Thorn will spend at least five years in prison, before he can apply for parole.

Judge Cummings said: “You will serve somewhere between five and 10 years actually in prison.”

Thorn showed no emotion and did not speak or move on the video link.

He must sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.