Rotherham man jailed for child sex abuse offences
A man who groomed schoolgirls and abused them on multiple occasions at his home in Rotherham has today been convicted and jailed.
The CPS prosecuted Neil Cawton, 68, after an investigation by officers from the National Crime Agency’s Operation Stovewood, which is looking into allegations of non-familial child sexual abuse and exploitation which took place in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, between 1997 and 2013.
Cawton was found guilty of nine charges following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court on 23 November 2023.
Following the verdict he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He will also be placed on the sex offenders register for life.
Between 2006 and 2012, Cawton groomed four girls aged 12 to 16 to come into his home in Rawmarsh, Rotherham with the promise of cigarettes and alcohol.
Cawton enticed the girls into his home during this period so that he could take advantage of them. On multiple occasions, when the victims were in his home, the defendant took opportunities to touch, grope and expose himself to them and engage in sexual acts in their presence.
One victim recalled being forcefully pinned up against a kitchen unit by Cawton before he sexually assaulted her.
Sam Thompson, Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS, said: “Neil Cawton was calculating in his approach, luring young girls into his home with cigarettes and alcohol so that he could prey on them. Once he had gained their trust, he subjected them to degrading abuse for his own gratification.
“Child sexual abuse is a traumatising and life-changing crime, and I would like to commend the victims in this case for coming forward and reporting what happened to them. It is because of their evidence that we were able to secure a conviction and bring Cawton to justice.
“I hope this conviction sends a clear message that the CPS will relentlessly pursue justice and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, whenever that abuse took place. I encourage any victims of sexual abuse to report it to the police. It is never too late to seek justice.”
NCA Senior Investigating Officer Andy Sandham said: “Neil Cawton took advantage of these young and vulnerable teenagers, plying them with alcohol and cigarettes in a bid to get their trust.
“He tried to pretend he was their friend. He was not, he was their abuser.
“I’d like to pay tribute to those victims who were brave enough to come forward and tell their stories.
“Working with our partners in South Yorkshire we are determined to do all we can to support victims like them and bring offenders to justice."
Last year, to deal with the more complex and challenging child sexual abuse cases, the CPS established its dedicated Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit to share specialist understanding, build strong cases and increase the amount of successful prosecutions.
Notes to editors
- Sam Thompson is a Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS’ Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit which is part of the Serious Economic and Organised Crime International Directorate (SEOCID)
- Neil Cawton [DOB: 24/07/55] was found guilty of nine charges following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court on 23 November 2023.
- The charges included:
- Four counts of sexual activity with a child
- Four counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child
- One count of assault of a child under 13 by penetration
- He was sentenced on the same day to 10 years in prison. He will also be placed on the sex offenders register for life.