A single mother was befriended by a man at her local Luton church who went on to sexually abuse her young daughter at his home.
The 63 year old was jailed for four years today/Mon for carrying out assaults on the child, who was aged between 5 and 7.
Luton crown court heard that the man and his wife were trusted by the girl’s mother and they became “like family,” even going on holiday together.
Prosecutor Robert Forrest said the offences took place between July 2012 and July 2014. They came to light on Bank Holiday Monday last August when the little girl heard her mother tell a friend how she trusted the man. The next morning she came downstairs and said: “Mum, can I tell you something? He has been touching me.”
A meeting was arranged at the church and when the man was confronted, he said: “I did it” or “She’s not lying,” said Mr Forrest.
The 7-year old girl was interviewed by the police, saying she remembered the abuse started just before her 6th birthday. She said he put his hands inside her knickers and said: “Do you like it?”
The man had handed himself in to Luton police station, telling staff he had touched a child.  He said he had done it five or six times under her clothing and three times above. It began when she was between aged 5 and 6. He said he had tried to keep himself away from the girl and claimed that he did not gain any sexual gratification.
In a victim impact statement handed to the judge, the girl’s mother said she felt she had failed her daughter.
The man, who now lives in Milton Keynes, appeared for sentence having earlier pleaded guilty to four charges of sexual assault on a child aged under 13.
Stuart Sprawson, defending, said the man had voluntarily sought counselling and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.  “As soon as the events were disclosed, he met the mother with his wife and made full admissions,” he said.
He handed the judge references, saying: “He is 63 years old, is of previous good character and is remorseful. He was held in good esteem by many people who are shocked and devastated,” he said.
Judge Michael Kay QC said: “This case was the most appalling breach of trust. You used church matters and your role in helping the community as a cloak to manipulate your way into the affections of the victim’s mother. She attended the church and looked to you as an honest member of the community. You became a very close friend of the family and while this was happening you were abusing that girl.”
He said he rejected the idea that he had no sexual interest in the child, telling him: “It is very difficult to say what the psychological damage is to the child in the future. The real evil of offences of this nature is that you have potentially ruined a life.”
In addition to the four year sentence, the man must register as a sex offender for life and abide by the terms of a sexual prevention order.