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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Cumbrian man begins eight year 'terrifying' jail term for sex assaults

A pervert's past finally caught up with him when he was led away to begin what he looked upon as a “terrifying” eight-year prison sentence.

Michael White photo
Michael White

The sentence passed on 59-year-old Michael White at Carlisle Crown Court would almost certainly have been very much longer if he had committed the offences today.

But he had to be sentenced in line with the laws which were in force at the time he was sexually abusing a schoolgirl in his home town of Cleator Moor.

And though the maximum sentence for such crimes these days is life imprisonment, back, in the 1970s and 80s, it was five years.

The judge, however, was able to impose the eight-year term only by ordering him to serve some of the sentences consecutively.

The charges arose from his behaviour in the 1970s and 80s when White, who denied seven charges of indecent assault but was convicted after a trial, was in his 20s.

The court heard the abuse started when the girl was aged just seven and continued until she was 14.

His victim, who now lives away from the area, had to give evidence in court – an experience which was said to have made her ill. She described how as she got older she tried, and usually failed, to fight White, of Trumpet Terrace, off.

It was only when she reached about 13 years of age that she “became more successful” at it, she said.

But even then it was only in her early 20s, and suffering from depression with suicidal tendencies, that she eventually told her doctor what had happened to her in her childhood.

She made a conscious decision never to have children of her own, the court heard, and she had chosen never to come back to Cumbria because of what White had done to her.

Greg Hoare, defending, said White, who had never been in trouble before, would find prison hard.

“For anyone going into the prison system at nearly 60 years of age it is a difficult regime to come to terms with,” he said.

“He has already found it terrifying [being in prison in remand] and it will no doubt become more so.

“Prisoners who go into jail for this type of offence have a sense of apprehension all the way through the sentence because of the type of crime they are there for. It is likely to be a very lonely time for him.”

Passing sentence, Judge Barbara Forrester said it was clear that White had started grooming the girl from an early age.

“Although she felt uncomfortable and unhappy about your behaviour she was unable to do anything about it,” she said.

The judge said White’s crimes had had a “devastating effect” on his victim, particularly in respect of her relationships with men.

“Although she found the strength to come to court to give her evidence against you after all these years, I am told she has found that giving that evidence has caused her health to deteriorate,” she said. “I suspect that you ruined her childhood and you have almost ruined the rest of her life.”

Detective Constable Andrea Davidson, of Cumbria police’s Public Protection Unit, said it had taken years for the victim to find the courage to speak out.

“The sentence handed down should give his victim some sense of justice and hopefully some form of closure,” she said. “We hope she can try to move on from the terrible ordeal that she suffered at the hands of Michael White.

“We have specially trained officers who will speak to anyone who has suffered abuse, no matter when it occurred.”

White was ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

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