September 2021

Paedophile’s victim wrote ‘I want to die’ on school computer

Gregory Witham, 39, formerly of Walton but now of Manor Road, Blackpool

A paedophile who repeatedly tried to rape a girl was arrested after she wrote “I want to die” on a school computer.

Gregory Witham molested his young victim on multiple occasions leaving her with “severe psychological harm”.

And showing absolutely no remorse in court, Witham sighed loudly before he was sent down, waved to his supporters sitting in the public gallery and said: “See you later.”

Liverpool Crown Court heard she started self-harming as a result of the abuse, which was spotted by teachers.

But the predator denied any wrongdoing and forced the child to endure a trial, when he blamed her for what happened.

The ex-Navy serviceman, 39, formerly of Walton, shook his head when he was today jailed for 16 years.

Judge David Swinnerton said Witham’s attempts to blame his vulnerable victim showed “a complete lack of remorse”.

He said: “Of course she is not to blame in the slightest. It’s appalling that you seek to suggest that she was.”

Witham was found guilty of two counts of attempted rape, which the court heard reflected “repeated attempts” to rape his victim.

He was convicted of eight counts sexual activity with a child, which included four counts involving repeatedly touching the girl’s genitalia under her clothing, and one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, which was an attempt to get her to perform a sex act on him.

Gareth Roberts, prosecuting, said the abuse came to light after an incident at the girl’s school.

What to do if you’re a victim of a sex crime

He said: “It was suggested she had written ‘I want to die’ on a school computer.”

Mr Roberts told the jury teachers were concerned and spoke to the victim, who initially denied writing the words, but said she was unhappy and harming herself, and the reason was because she was being sexually abused by Witham.

The prosecutor today said: “The defendant asserted during the trial and has repeated in his pre-sentence report that she was sexualised and had essentially attempted to come on to him if I can use that phrase, which the Crown would say is a deliberate attempt to impugn her character.”

Mr Roberts said there was also “a degree of degradation”, because Witham would become angry with his victim and tell her she was “useless”.

Six members of the girl’s devastated family attended the sentencing hearing this morning.

The court heard a victim statement written by the girl’s mum, who said her daughter had tried to write it herself, but became “very distressed and broke down in tears”.

The mum said: “She said to me she thinks about what happened every single day.”

She told the court she believed her daughter would benefit from counselling, but the girl didn’t want it because she doesn’t like to talk about the abuse, which brings it all back to her.

The mum said: “She is putting on a brave face, but I know as her mother deep down she is hurting.”

Witham, now of Manor Road, Blackpool, who has no previous convictions, was supported by three people sitting in the public gallery.

Judge Swinnerton said Witham would get angry with his victim if she didn’t let him abuse her.

He said on one occasion, he told his victim “she was useless and worthless”.

The judge said Witham accused his victim of trying to “manipulate” him when he gave evidence.

He said in the pre-sentence report Witham finally admitted some of the abuse, but still denied the attempted rapes.

Judge Swinnerton said: “Rather than showing remorse you sought in the trial and continue to seek in the pre-sentence report and in the interview with the author of the pre-sentence report to try and blame her.”

He said: “You said she was sexually forward towards you and that she had been exhibiting sexualised behaviour.

“It does you no credit and certainly indicates a complete lack of remorse that you still seek to blame her.”

Witham sat with his arms folded in the dock as the judge explained how he had left the Navy in 2012.

Judge Swinnerton said: “In mitigation you have no previous convictions, albeit that counts for relatively little when your facade of outward respectability hides the fact that for years you were committing very serious sexual offences.”

He described the victim as “particularly vulnerable” and concluded she had suffered “severe psychological harm”.

The judge said Witham was “an offender of particular concern” and handed him an extended one year on licence.

This type of sentence means Knowles must serve at least half of the sentence – eight years – in prison before he can apply to the Parole Board for his release.

Judge Swinnerton ordered him to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and a restraining order indefinitely.

Witham sighed loudly before he was sent down, waved to his supporters sitting in the public gallery and said: “See you later.”