Beds, Herts & Bucks

Man jailed for sex attack on girl when bluebell-picking

A 67-year-old man from Hertfordshire who took a young girl to pick bluebells and then sexually assaulted her has been jailed for 14 months.

Terence Fowler denied the offence and villagers from Offley, where he lived, even raised a petition supporting him.

Luton Crown Court was told that since being convicted by a jury he has admitted his guilt.

Judge Jeffrey Burke QC said his "lechery" was out of character but he took advantage of the 13-year-old girl.

"You were carried away by lechery and acted in a way that was plainly out of character. You took advantage of her young age and naivety," the judge said.

"An unpleasant feature is that you pleaded not guilty and made her give evidence.

"I accept that you feel shame and that this has been a black cloud over your family for a long time."

'Well-respected man'

A jury at his trial in August was told that on 8 May last year he spoke to the girl after she had come home from school.

She was not in a very happy mood so he suggested going to pick some bluebells.

He told her she was pretty and then fondled her and got on top of her.

She managed to stop what was happening and back at the village she told a friend what had happened and Fowler was arrested.

He was convicted of one charge of sexual activity with a child under 16.

Geoffrey Birch, defending, said: "He was a popular and well-respected man in the small community where he lived, and played a very active role in the community.

"Why he did what he did remains something of a mystery. It was an aberration, an impulsive act on his part.

"It is highly unlikely it would ever be repeated."

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