Man guilty of abuse but cleared of rape

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

A man has been found guilty of indecently assaulting a schoolgirl at a house in the resort – but cleared of attempting to rape her.

Shaun Fitzpatrick, 56, denied he had abused the girl over a number of years when she was a teenager.

Why did she tell him?

But the jury at Preston Crown Court unanimously found him guilty of two counts of indecent assault, which represented a pattern of abuse when the girl was 14 or 15-years-old.

Over the course of the trial, Fitzpatrick, of Thornber Grove, Blackpool, insisted the youngster was making malicious allegations against him.

But the court heard she had told several people about the abuse, including her mother, who was unable to give evidence due to ill health.

His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also told her boyfriend, who she lived with from the age of 16.

The pair have since separated but the man gave evidence during the trial, telling the jury his girlfriend had spoken of the abuse in the early days of their relationship, almost a decade ago.

Joe Boyd, prosecuting, said if the woman was lying she would have complained to the police sooner.

He added: “Why did she tell him? Was she expecting that 10 years later she would go to the police, or was it because she had got close to this young man and wanted to tell him?”

The court heard the girl’s family had argued after she spoke out about the abuse as her mother did not do anything once she had been told.

The woman finally reported her abuser to the police last year and gave a recorded interview in which she detailed the way in which Fitzpatrick got her on her own and attacked her.

Judge Andrew Woolman ordered a report from the probation service. Fitzpatrick will return to court on September 8 to be sentenced.