Man sentenced for child abductions - Ware

14/03/2014

A man appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Friday, 14 March 2014 and was sentenced to life and to serve a minimum of seven years for the abduction of two girls in Ware last year.

George Richards (formerly Luke Sadowski), aged 29, of Gladstone Road, Ware, pleaded guilty on 23 January at the same court to two counts of child abduction, possession of an imitation firearm, and possession of a bladed article.

The abductions of the girls, who were aged under 16, occurred in September 2013.

Richards was arrested in Canons Road at 9:30am on 16 September following the second incident. He had been seen by officers a short time beforehand in Poles Lane where he ran from police officers waving what they believed to be a handgun at them and warning them not to follow him. He was then wrestled to the ground and detained by an unarmed officer. Upon being searched the knife was found.

The court heard Richards had been jailed for three years at Southwark Crown Court in 2003 at the age of 19 after admitting to procure a child under 16 and possessing an imitation gun.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service  (CPS) said: "These were despicable crimes against defenceless young girls, which could have had far worse consequences. It is impossible to imagine a more vulnerable victim.

"We have a duty to protect the vulnerable members of our society. The CPS takes the criminal mistreatment of vulnerable people extremely seriously and built a strong case to present the court with the full extent of the offending. The guilty plea of Richards reflected the strength of the prosecution case against him, and meant that the young victims and witnesses did not have to endure the ordeal of giving evidence in court.

"We have worked closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved for the victims and their families. We hope that the conviction and sentence will in some way help them come to terms with these horrifying events with the knowledge that the person that subjected these children and police officers to this terrible ordeal has been brought to justice.

"George Richards has today been sentenced to life with a minimum term of seven years and can no longer prey upon further children. However, no matter how long the prison sentence is, we acknowledge that nothing can make up for what the victims and their families have been through. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Chief Inspector for East Herts, Gerry McDonald said: "I am pleased with the sentencing today, and the fact that this very dangerous man is off our streets.

"Understandably the events on those days have had a significant impact on the victims and their families. However,  I hope it is of some comfort to them knowing that the man who did this is now serving a significant prison term. I would like to thank the victims and their families for their courage and support throughout this extremely difficult time.

"I would once again like to reassure the community that reports of this nature are taken extremely seriously from the initial stages. In this case officers were quickly deployed to the area and a significant amount of work went on in the background as part of the investigation. The circumstances surrounding the arrest also highlight the dangers police officers face. Those involved did not know that the weapon was an imitation and bravely put their lives at risk to ensure this man was detained. I would like to thank all those officers involved in this operation for their hard-work and determination."

The families of the victims said: "As you can imagine we have all been through an extremely difficult and traumatic time. A stranger came into our lives through no fault of our own, turned them upside down and changed them forever.

"This is not something we ever expected to happen to our families or would ever want to happen to any other families. The man who did this is dangerous and whilst knowing he is now in prison may help us in some way to re-build our lives, we have also been sentenced to living with these awful memories forever.

"We have been supported by the police throughout, they have been truly excellent. We are so grateful to all those who have been involved and would like to thank each and every one."

"We would also ask that our privacy be respected at this time."