Somerset

Saltford church youth leader jailed for sex offences

Philip Barlow from Raleigh Close, Saltford Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Philip Barlow was found guilty of sexual assault, sexual activity with a child and voyeurism

A church youth leader and former teacher has been jailed for four years for sex offences against young girls.

Philip Barlow, 29, from Raleigh Close in Saltford, near Bath, was convicted of 14 offences at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday.

The jury found him guilty on three counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, 10 of sexual activity with a child and one of voyeurism.

Barlow was placed on the sex offenders register.

He was also banned from ever teaching again and from social work involving children aged under 16.

The court heard he abused the two victims, one as young as 12, between 2002 and 2009.

The jurors acquitted Barlow, who was a youth leader at the Grace Bible Church in Saltford, of one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and four of indecent assault on a third girl.

'Sexual exploitation'

His grooming of one victim was so "successful" that when she turned 16 he began a sexual relationship with her behind his wife's back, the court heard.

Ian Fenny, prosecuting, said during the trial: "This case is about the sexual exploitation by this man of young girls. This was never a relationship of equals.

"This was a much older man taking advantage of much younger girls."

Virginia Cornwall, defending, said Barlow had lost his career as a teacher and would never be able to work as a youth leader again.

The court heard that after the offences, Barlow used social networking sites Facebook and MSN Messenger to persuade his victims to keep quiet.

Jailing Barlow, Judge Michael Roach described the father-of-one and former music teacher as an "intelligent, gifted musician".

"This case is a tragedy for the girls, it is a tragedy for your family and it is tragedy for your church and you bring disgrace upon all of them," he said.

  • Mr Barlow's conviction was quashed on 26 April after he appealed against it. A retrial has been ordered.

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