Whitby girl hoped that sex assault 'was just a dream', court is told

Pearson has been jailed for 15 months and ordered him to sign on the sex-offenders register for 10 years.
Pearson has been jailed for 15 months and ordered him to sign on the sex-offenders register for 10 years.

A man has been jailed for sexually abusing a young girl and taking photos of her naked body.

Damien Pearson, 27, sexually assaulted the under-age teen and took dozens of photos of her in a state of undress at a property in Whitby.

York Crown Court heard that the girl, from Whitby, pretended to be asleep as Pearson abused her and took pictures of intimate parts of her body after pulling her clothes up and down.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, eventually told her parents about the incident and Pearson was brought in for questioning. He denied the offences but was charged with three counts of sexual assault and one of taking indecent pictures of an under-age girl.

A jury at Pearson’s trial in December heard that the young victim was initially reluctant to tell her mother about the attacks because she thought it might have been a bad dream.

“At first she thought she was dreaming,” said prosecutor Rebecca Young. “She said it was because she really didn’t want it to be real; she wanted it to be a dream.”

The girl said that Pearson, of Valley Drive, Esh Winning, Durham, took about 20 indecent photos of her and she remembered the flash of the camera.

“She said (that) while he was doing this, she didn’t move or do anything at all,” added Ms Young. “She pretended to be asleep because she was just frozen.”

The court heard that Pearson, a former general assistant at a plush Whitby hotel, immediately started looking at the photos of the girl on his phone.

The girl was highly-distressed the following morning and didn’t tell anyone. She eventually told her mother in a written note.

Pearson was arrested on May 16 last year - the day after the incident - when police seized his mobile phone, but forensic analysis of the device showed he had removed all the photos after restoring the phone to “factory settings”.

“Not only had every photo been removed, but all the data and images on the phone had been deleted,” said Ms Young.

“The Crown says he did it to remove the evidence, because at this stage he knew about the allegations made by (the victim).”

The girl claimed that Pearson had sexually assaulted her on two previous occasions, but defence barrister Chloe Fairley said her client, a father-of-one, still denied all allegations.

“He is a hard-working, devoted parent,” she added. “He can be of immense credit to the community.”

Pearson, a former support worker for people with learning difficulties, appeared for sentence on Friday after a jury found him guilty of one count of sexual assault and another of taking indecent images of the girl.

They found him not guilty of the two remaining counts of sexual assault by penetration, which the victim alleged had happened previously.

Judge Simon Hickey jailed Pearson for 15 months and ordered him to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years.

Following sentence, the girl’s father said: “We are thankful to the police, judge, jury and prosecutor for getting our daughter the justice she deserves.”