Elderly man jailed for child sex abuse - Watford

12/09/2014

A man appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Friday, 12 September 2014, and was jailed for 5 and a half years for sexual offences against children.

John Dearlove, aged 80, of Grandfield Avenue, Watford was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment and given an extended sentence of a further four and a half years because of the risk he poses to children.

Peter Shaw, prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told the court that Dearlove sexually abused four girls following the death of his wife.  Over a two and a half year period, from 2008 to 2011, he abused one girl when she was aged between 9 and 11. On four or five occasions he kissed her on the lips and touched her inappropriately 8 or 9 times. As a result of the abuse the girl said she had self-harmed.

A 16-year-old girl said on one occasion at a church in February last year she was inappropriately touched by Dearlove, who also looked down her top.

Another girl was abused, between the ages of 8 or 9 and 11, when Dearlove touched her chest on around 10 occasions and once put his hand down her trousers. "As a result of Dearlove's actions the girl suffers nightmares," said Mr Shaw.

The fourth victim, who was aged 11 or 12, said she was kissed by the Dearlove, who also put his hand down her top.

Dearlove was arrested on 14 September last year after complaints were made earlier in the year. He initially denied the offences, but on 19 August this year he pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual assault of a child aged under 13, and one count of sexual assault of a girl.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved sexual activity between a man, who is now 80-years-old, and four girls in Nottingham and Watford between November 2007 and April 2013.  The age of the victims at the time greatly increases the seriousness of the offences.

"He was supposed to be a role model, but instead took advantage of his status to prey on young girls for his own sexual gratification.  It is only due to the great courage of the victims that the despicable behaviour of this man has been exposed.  I would like to pay tribute to them for their strength and tenacity in coming forward.

"Due to the strength of the evidence against him, Dearlove recognised that justice had caught up with him and he had little option, but to plead guilty to the offences and on 19 August 2014, at St Albans Crown Court he pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual assault.  His pleas prevented his victims from the added trauma of re-living their horrific abuse and giving evidence during a trial.

"Today's sentence serves as an important message to people who have been the victim of crimes such as these, or those that know such crimes are being committed, that they should come forward and that time is no barrier to justice.  The CPS will work closely with partners, as we did with Hertfordshire Constabulary in this case, to ensure that robust criminal cases are put before the courts.

"The emotional impact, on the victims and their families, of the abhorrent actions of this man is impossible to quantify.  I hope that the conviction and sentence gives some small comfort to them.  Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

David Smithet, defending, said Dearlove was a diabetic who had suffered a stroke at the beginning of the year. He said his wife of 40 years had died in 1999. "Through his own fault he has lost everything. He accepts his behaviour was unacceptable and criminal," he said.

Judge Stephen Gullick said that he had read a probation report on Dearlove which stated that he did not "exhibit an understanding" of his offending. He said he was passing an extended sentence because he remained a significant risk to children under 16.

Dearlove will remain on the Sex Offender Register for life and must abide by the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) banning him from having unsupervised contact with children for the next 10 years.