Woman who abused boy, 13, spared jail

A woman who admitted to historical sex offences with a schoolboy has been spared an immediate jail term.
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Janice Higgins had already pleaded guilty at Wigan Magistrates’ Court to gross indecency with a 13-year-old and indecent assault of the same victim when he was still under 16.

Now, having appeared before a Bolton Crown Court judge, she was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment albeit suspended for 18 months.

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The hearing was told that the incidents took place between April 1993 and April 1995.

Justices heard Higgins played strip poker with the boy and performed a lewd act, while on another occasion she performed a sex act on him.

The court was told Higgins, now 59 and of Durham Close, Tyldesley, and the boy would kiss whenever they were alone together and on one occasion also had a sexual encounter in a shed.

Prosecutors said a few children would go round to Higgins’s house and from there the victim began visiting on his own.

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The judge was told: “She was always flirtatious with him. She would stand behind him and put her hands on his shoulders. The defendant knew he was 13 because he would often turn up in his school uniform.

“On one occasion the defendant and complainant were playing cards and she suggested they play strip poker. She lost two games, and it could be she was deliberately losing, and took her top and bra off. She said he could touch her and after about five or 10 minutes told him not to tell anyone what had happened.

“After that they would kiss whenever they were on their own and this went on for two or three years.

“On another occasion they were kissing and the defendant undid her top button and encouraged him to perform a sex act on her. A few months later she performed a sex act on him, though he can’t remember how that came about.

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“She would tell the complainant to come round during the day or later on in the evening when her husband was at the pub playing darts. He was always on edge someone would come round and catch them.”

The court heard that it was only later that the boy realised how predatory and wrong Higgins’s actions were. The prosecution added: “At the time he felt it was like an affair. When she suggested strip poker he felt it was weird but agreed because he was enjoying the flirting and the attention.

“However, looking back he believes she preyed on his age and vulnerability. He has had a lot of trouble in his life.”

The court was told the boy eventually stopped visiting and made sure he was never alone with Higgins. But he also kept what happened a secret for years due to embarrassment. The matter only came to the attention of the police after he began counselling.

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Higgins’s defence barrister told the hearing that the defendant had been a victim of historical sexual abuse herself and had also been in a violent relationship with her ex-husband. But she had made full and frank admissions of the offences in police interview.

It was ordered that Higgins sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.