June 2011

Man groomed vulnerable girl

A HIGH risk paedophile has been jailed for grooming a teenage girl for sex.

Pensioner Roy Appleton befriended a vulnerable family with medical and learning difficulties and showered the 14-year-old girl with gifts.

He even claimed to be the girl’s grandfather when she was taken ill and went to see her doctor.

But a court heard how suspicious staff at the surgery alerted police as they knew the real grandfather.

Appleton was under a court order at the time banning him from any contact with any child under the age of 16.

Chelmsford Crown Court also heard how the 71-year-old was regarded by police as at “a very high risk of offending against children”.

He has convictions dating back to the Sixties for indecent assault on children and had been jailed for abducting a teenage girl while posing as a taxi driver.

Appleton, from Shakeston Close, Writtle, was supposed to tell police if he was in contact with any child under 16, but did not tell them he had befriended the family.

He admitted a charge of breaking the terms of a sex offences prevention order and was jailed for 22 months.

Judge Laura Harris told Appleton he had used “devious behaviour” to become friends with the family.

The judge also said Appleton’s gifts and presents to the teenager were “a classic case of grooming”.

Alan Compton, prosecuting, told the court the family were classed as vulnerable, with medical problems, at the time Appleton got to know them.

He acted as a grandfather-like figure and bought the teenage daughter gifts including a television, karaoke machine and other items, Mr Compton told the court.

He also took and collected the girl from school, which he was banned from doing under the sex offences prevention order, which forbid him from being alone with children.

At the time, police were keeping tabs on the pensioner with monthly visits, but did not know about Appleton’s contact with the family as he did not tell them.

The court heard matters came to light when the teenager was taken ill and went to see her doctor.

While she was there, the surgery received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandfather, but the voice did not match that of the real grandfather, who was known to staff.

Appleton was arrested later, but he declined to answer most of the questions police asked him. The court heard there was no evidence to suggest the teenager had been sexually assaulted by Appleton.

Judge Harris kept the sex order in place and added a condition that Appleton most not befriend any family with any children aged under 16 without police permission.

Natasha Nair, mitigating, told the court Appleton regretted what he had done. There had been no sexual abuse against the girl, she added.