4 Oct 2008

Man read Bible to girl he raped, aged six

Nottingham Evening Post
September 27, 2008

By Chris Birkle

A Man read Bible stories to a six-year-old girl he raped.

Michael Thornton, 66, who worked in Africa as a missionary, was jailed for more than eight years.

The rape happened in St Ann's in 1999, but was not reported to police until this year after the victim took an overdose.

Sarah Knight, prosecuting, told Nottingham Crown Court: "She did not understand what was going on. He told police he was under the control of lust."

The court heard Thornton believed the girl was "leading him on" but the rape did not last long because he felt "riddled with guilt". On a
separate occasion he indecently assaulted her. It was on this occasion that he read her Bible stories.

Thornton pleaded guilty to rape and indecency with a child after being arrested on May 1 this year.

Detectives traced his whereabouts to Spotswood Drive, in Sheffield.

He had a previous conviction for indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 16 in February, 1989.

Peter Walmsley, defending, said: "The offence in 1989 was not similar to this and was ten years previous.

"It is, in my submission, some sort of mitigation that he did not go through with a similar offence on the second occasion."

"He had an opportunity to do it a second time but desisted.

"The victim has not had to come to court and knows that the defendant has admitted his guilt.

"It would have been very easy for him to deny the matter. Following the gap of eight years the prosecution would have great difficulty
proving an offence.

"He admitted it very frankly right from the word go.

"It is right to point out that he had not offended for ten years and he had not offended since."

Sentencing Thornton, Judge Michael Stokes said: "There are few cases more serious than that of a fully-grown man sexually abusing a child of six.

"I am very concerned that you should tell the police, as you plainly did, that you were lusting after a girl of that age and could not control yourself.

"It is some years since you committed this offence but that in itself is not mitigation.

"I accept that since this offence you have done a great deal of good work.

"But none of that can take away the real gravity of this.

"This rape in particular is a very grievous offence."

Thornton was given 12 months for indecency with a child and seven-and-half years, consecutively, for rape.

He will serve half the sentence in jail and be banned from working with children under 16.

Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Charles Kidger said: "It is a despicable and vile offence against a vulnerable young child.

"No sentence is sufficient enough to recompense what this man has done."

This article appeared on the front page of the Nottingham Evening Post, but was not included in the online version.

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