Child ‘devastated’ by sex abuse

Robert Connolly

Robert Connolly

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A PAEDOPHILE pensioner who abused a young girl was told he had “devastated” her victim’s life.

Preston Crown Court heard how Robert Connolly’s behaviour more than a decade ago had “weighed heavily” on the mind of the young girl he attacked.

Connolly, 76, had warned the eight-year-old girl she would get into “a lot of trouble” if she opened up about the abuse she was suffering.

But now, more than 10 years later, Connolly, of Threlfall Road, South Shore, has been jailed for 16 months after pleading guilty to three charges of indecent assault and one of indecent with a child.

The court was told Connolly’s offences had involved touching the girl, kissing her on the neck and exposing himself.

Francis McEntee, prosecuting, said: “She, as a child of eight years, didn’t understand what the defendant was doing.

“He told her not to tell anyone and that if she did tell, she and he would get into a lot of trouble.

“As the girl got older, the abuse started to impact upon her life.

“A victim personal statement indicates that matters have been weighing heavily upon her mind.”

It is the second time Connolly has been jailed for indecently assaulting a child.

He was jailed for three-and-a-half years in 1993 and also has convictions for child pornography type offences.

Rachel Woods, defending, said Connolly was now a “very different man” than he had been 10 years ago, both in terms of physical health and his “risk” of offending.

She added: “I submit that in the long term the public might be better protected by a sentence that wouldn’t involve him being sent to jail and one which would include a sexual offenders treatment programme.”

But Judge Jonathan Gibson said he had no choice but to send Connolly to prison.

He added: “This case demonstrates the fact that sexual abuse of whatever nature on young children and indeed older people can have devastating long term consequences.

“I would not be properly discharging my duties if I didn’t pass an immediate custodial sentence.”

Connolly will also be subject to a sexual offences prevention order and banned from working with children.

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