A Commondale man plied a schoolgirl with treats in an attempt to persuade her to let him perform sex acts on her, a court has heard.
Anthony Gadd (50) was living in South Cumbria when he regularly abused the girl for about two years, either at his home or in other places where she was alone with him. Gadd, who now lives in Commondale, had pleaded not guilty to five charges of inciting the girl – then aged 13 or 14 – to engage in sexual activity with him. But he was found guilty of them all after a six-day trial at Carlisle Crown Court last month.
The jury could not reach verdicts on three more serious charges that he had actually engaged in sexual activity with the girl, and he was formally declared not guilty of those offences after the prosecution decided not to seek a retrial.
Back in court to be sentenced on Tuesday, Gadd was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work. He was also put on the sex offenders register and, under a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, was banned from having unsupervised contact with any girls aged under 16 and from having any contact at all with the girl he abused - all for 10 years.
Gadd’s defence barrister Andy Pilkington told the court that Gadd, who is planning to marry later this year, still denied that he had done anything wrong.
He said he claimed the girl and her mother had conspired against him to get him into trouble.
Mr Pilkington argued there was nothing to suggest Gadd posed a real risk of harm to members of the public. And he said there was no danger of his meeting his victim because they now lived on opposite sides of the country.
But Judge Barbara Forrester said that although Gadd was only being sentenced for inciting the girl to commit sexual acts, rather than actually committing those acts, the offences were so serious to justify such an order. She said it was clear that “on many occasions” he had asked the girl to join him in sexual activity, though she always refused.
The judge told him: “This type of behaviour - which amounts to grooming – causes serious psychological harm, even if there is no physical activity.
“Your behaviour indicates that you do not have the appropriate boundaries in place.”