Sex offender who exposed himself to teenage girls in Ellesmere Port sentenced
A sex offender who exposed himself to three teenage girls in Ellesmere Port has been handed a suspended sentence.
Previously, a jury at Chester Crown Court unanimously found Thomas James Powell, 30, of Wilkinson Street, had intentionally exposed himself on two separate occasions in 2019 to vulnerable girls aged 16 or under, following a three-day trial.
Prosecuting, Ryan Rothwell had told the jury the victims in the case were a 16-year-old girl and two 14-year-old girls at the time of the offences. None of the victims can be named for legal reasons.
The court heard the 16-year-old girl did not know the 14-year-old girls, and vice versa.
One of the offences happened in May 2019, in broad daylight, as the 16-year-old girl was pushing a relative’s baby in a pram in St Andrews Road.
Powell rode towards the girl on his bike, went behind her and said: “I think you might want to see this.”
The girl turned around and saw Powell had exposed himself, and had a “weird smirk” on his face.
Giving evidence in court, the girl said she had replied with a dirty look, told him “no”, and moved away from him before contacting the police.
The second incident happened in the evening, two months later, when two girls were on their way to a fast food restaurant.
They had previously seen Powell on his bike, wearing a long coat with a fur-rimmed hood, pass by a few minutes earlier.
Powell then approached the two girls from behind, again on his bike, and exposed himself to both of them.
One of the girls later said in interview she could not understand why someone would do that to girls of their age, and felt “disgusted”.
One hour later, one of the two girls went into the Ohri Convenience Store on Bunbury Green, only to find Powell was there with his bicycle.
She told the other girl, who had been telling a woman in a takeaway shop about what had happened earlier, and all three went into the store.
CCTV footage showed the woman speaking to Powell, who rode off on his bike.
Giving evidence, Powell had claimed to defence barrister Simon Parry he was being threatened at the time, accused of “being a paedophile”, and a group of “lads” were present and threatening to steal his bicycle.
Mr Rothwell, cross-examining, said the CCTV showed no evidence of ‘lads’ being present in or outside the store.
He asked why, if threats and accusations of that sort had been made against him, Powell had not contacted the police or told anyone about it.
Powell replied there was “no point” in speaking about something he said he had not done.
All three girls subsequently positively identified the 5ft 1in Powell during an identification parade.
On Friday, July 9, Powell appeared at Chester Crown Court for sentencing.
Mr Rothwell read out victim impact statements for the three girls, each of them detailing the effect the offences had on them.
One said they had seen someone like Powell in the street since and “froze in panic”, and the incident had “exacerbated their existing anxiety”, and felt “vulnerable” and “on edge”.
Another said they no longer wanted to go out on their own and was “on high alert”.
She had seen Powell twice more in public, and felt like she was the one being punished.
The third girl said: “What he did made me feel sick,” adding she did not feel safe going out and avoided the area where he had been.
Judge Berkson, sentencing, said: “These type of offences are short-lived but have lasting effects on the victims. One hopes that they may be able to move on following the conclusion of this trial.
“They all identified you, they all gave evidence. You showed no remorse at the time of the trial.”
Judge Berkson added Powell did not have any previous convictions for sexual offences and accepted the defendant had difficulties in childhood and developmental problems, but it was “far from clear” why he chose to offend in the way he did.
He said there was a “realistic prospect of rehabilitation”.
Powell was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He must carry out a two-year community order, to include 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and 200 hours unpaid work.
He was placed on the sex offenders register for seven years and must not contact any of his victims in any way as part of a seven-year restraining order.