A vile Wigan dad has been jailed for sexually assaulting a tiny schoolgirl in her own home while she slept.
At Bolton Crown Court this week Stephen Clarke, of Clapgate Lane in Goose Green, was handed the maximum available sentence of four years for abusing the six-year-old girl.
“Scientific evidence” was presented to the jury, who found Clarke guilty of non-penetrative assault on a female under 13.
The 29-year-old, who has a nine-year-old daughter of his own, was found guilty by a jury who heard that DNA evidence had been found on his victim.
During the trial, the court heard how Clarke had attended the home of an acquaintance, the girl's father, for a 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: “Whilst highly intoxicated and whilst a guest in that house he made his way into a downstairs room where she had been put down to sleep for the night.
“Her father her placed a duvet over her because she was tired and she was asleep when the defendant approached her.
“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.”
The court heard how the victim’s dad threw him out of the house and contacted authorities in an act described as showing “commendable restraint”.
Speaking to the Wigan Post, the devastated dad said: “I can’t believe he’s still denying it now. I want everyone to know what he has done. He took her pyjama pants off. All I could see was the back of his legs poking out.
“My first concern was my daughter, I went to her. Then I went for him. He ran off down the street.
“If he was innocent why didn’t he go straight to the police station and tell them what had happened?
“He had the opportunity to go straight there if he wanted to.”
A victim impact statement given by the victim’s parents explained how the little girl had gone “off the rails” for a couple of weeks following the incident and had become “very clingy” to them.
“She has had problems both at school and at home,” said Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting.
“She is becoming angrier at home and lashing out occasionally.
“Since the sexual assault she has been put on the list for counselling.”
Judge Stead said it would be “almost impossible” to predict the effect that the incident will have on the victim in later life.
Clarke’s defence barrister said that his client suffers from depression and anxiety and maintains that he did not commit the crime.
During sentencing, Judge Stead said: “The child was particularly vulnerable being put down to sleep in her own house.
“I cannot stress too clearly that this is in the one place where this child, as with all children, should feel at her safest.
“She is an intelligent and thoughtful child but she’s been troubled by what has happened.
“Her two parents have been greatly distressed too.”
Due to the nature of the incident, Judge Stead said he was able to sentence Clarke to between one and four years in custody.
And as well as handing down the maximum sentence of four years, he also ordered Clarke to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order meaning that he can have no contact with any female child under the age of 16 or stay or live in the same house as them, apart from his own daughter.
“We can’t believe he got the maximum sentence,” said the girl’s mum.
“We were expecting two years so this is really good.
“We are made up with four years.”