Judge jails sexual predator’

PUBLISHED: 11:49 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 14:57 12 May 2010

A CAR dealer has been jailed for seven years for sexually abusing five young girls over a 14 year period. Graham Pope, 67, had taken advantage of the girls aged mainly between seven and 10 when they stayed over in his homes in Hinxworth, Ashwell and Guild

A CAR dealer has been jailed for seven years for sexually abusing five young girls over a 14 year period.

Graham Pope, 67, had taken advantage of the girls aged mainly between seven and 10 when they stayed over in his homes in Hinxworth, Ashwell and Guilden Morden as friends of his two daughters.

Judge Michael Kay QC told him at Luton Crown Court on Monday: "You encouraged children to play at your house and their parents believed you were doing it out of the kindness of your heart and they had no qualms about permitting them to stay over.

"But unknown to them and your own family you were a sexual predator and you encouraged them to stay over so you could select the most suitable children and groom them to fulfil your perverted desires.

"Your conduct was totally abhorrent. You were cunning and manipulative and a serial offender."

Pope, of Thompsons Meadow, Guilden Morden, originally denied 20 charges of indecent assault between 1985 and 2000.

In September, a jury convicted him of 15 charges. Four charges were dropped half-way through the trial and the jury failed to agree on one charge.

Ann Evans, prosecuting said there were striking similarities between the accounts given by the five girls.

They told how Pope got involved at bath time and bed time. He would sponge them in the bath and then rub talc on them.

He performed oral sex on one 10-year-old girl while his own daughter slept in the room.

Pope, who ran a car dealership in Hitchin, was arrested on August 10 last year and immediately described the allegations as "nonsense".

Patricia May, for Pope said: "He now sees his conduct in a different light and feels remorseful.

"His reputation is in ruins, the esteem he was held in has absolutely gone, and the effect on his wife and daughters is devastating.

"He will serve his sentence with the knowledge of the heartache he has caused them."

Pope must register as a sex offender for life and have no unsupervised contact with any children under 16 ever.

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