A court has described how a Wigan dad showed "commendable restraint" after he found an 'acquaintance' sexually abusing his six year old daughter in his own home, throwing him out and contacting authorities.
During a trial at Bolton Crown Court, the court heard how Stephen Clarke, 29, from Goose Green, attended the girl's dad's house party with friends, during which time he became “heavily intoxicated”.
At some point during the night, the girl’s dad put her to bed in another room and covered her with a duvet because she did not want to be upstairs alone.
After checking on his daughter a couple of times, the girl’s dad returned to find Clarke under the duvet “with his legs sticking out”.
Sentencing Clarke, judge Timothy Stead said: “He removed the victim’s pyjama bottoms. He was found on his knees with his head under the duvet. He was found by the child’s father.”
Speaking to the Wigan Post, the devastated dad said: “My first concern was my daughter, I went to her. Then I went for him. He ran off down the street."
“Scientific evidence” was presented to the jury, who found Clarke guilty of non-penetrative assault on a female under 13.
Clarke was handed the maximum available sentence of four years for abusing the six-year-old girl.
Online reaction has been one of shock at the length of the sentence with many commenting that he should have been jailed for longer, but sentencing guidelines limited the judge to between one and four years and he gave out the maximum sentence he could.
Helen Clay posted on the WiganToday facebook page: Four years is the maximum?!?! ... he’ll be out in 2! How is that suitable punishment for what he’s done to a child!
Jade Monks posted: Four years is a joke it's gonna take this poor little girl a lifetime to get over!!
Donna Helps posted: What an absolute joke. Four years is no time at all. Makes my blood boil, I feel so sorry for that poor little girl.
Gaynor Green posted: Words fail me how four years is a maximum sentence for such a heinous crime! The little girl's father has shown incredible restraint, I truly hope all the family get every help available to them.
Amy Evans posted: He gets four years but that little girl will be traumatised for the rest of her life.
Rosie Mae posted: This is absolutely shocking and so upsetting to read, that poor girl. I can't even imagine what she is going through as well as her parents.
Full story here