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A man has been convicted of raping and sexually assaulting a girl when he was 15.
The Crown Prosecution Service said that Shaun Bennett, who is now 18 and is from Liverpool, committed the offences in the summer of 2019.
He denied the offences for some time, but then finally pleaded guilty to one count of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of sexual assault on 9 September 2021, just days before the trial date and when he was due to turn 18.
At a sentencing hearing today (9 December 2021) at Liverpool Crown Court, it was revealed that Bennett had met the 13-year-old girl on social media. He led her to believe, despite her youth, that he was romantically interested in her. He arranged to meet her initially with friends, but he enticed her away to woodland where he swiftly and brutally subjected her to a serious and violent sexual attack.
The judge, Recorder Ian Unsworth QC, in his sentencing remarks today said, “She said “NO”. She meant “NO.” But you ignored her. You could not care less for her. You were consumed by a desire to fulfil your own sexual desires and treated her with utter contempt.”
The victim did all she could to stop the assaults but Bennett used his greater strength to commit the offences. He subjected her to a further sexual assault six days later.
Bennett also threatened his victim via social media. HHJ Unsworth said, “You no doubt hoped that by threatening her, she would not pursue this case. You could not have been more wrong.”
The victim eventually found the courage to tell the authorities at her school and also the Police. HHJ Unsworth added today, “Her bravery contrasted with your cowardice as you lied to the Police and falsely suggested that you had done nothing wrong. You even suggested that you may have alibi witnesses to help you.”
In her Victim Personal Statement, the victim spoke of the depression she has suffered since the attacks. She said she had changed from someone who would, despite her difficulties, as a young girl, go out all the time and go anywhere, but now, such is the extreme nature of her anxiety, she is too scared to go out.
HHJ Unsworth added, “The impact statement was crafted some two years after you attacked her. It is abundantly clear that she has suffered severe psychological distress.”
Today (9 December 2021) at Liverpool Crown Court, Bennett was jailed for seven and a half years in total, with a further 5 years on extended licence. He has to remain on the Sexual Offender’s Register for life, and the victim has a restraining order against him until further notice.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Sarah Egan, who is a specialist lawyer with CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) unit, said, “Shaun Bennett is a dangerous, sexual predator, who only cares about his own depraved interests. The fact that this is not his first conviction for sexual offences highlights what kind of a person he is, and, despite substantial intervention by various support groups, he had not changed his ways.
“The reports presented at today’s hearing were damning; they described him as misogynistic, narcissistic, ego-centric and with a lack of empathy for others. This is clearly depicted in his crimes towards the victim. He subjected her to a prolonged, degrading, violent, sexual assault. He has shown no remorse for what he has done. The sentence passed today is a significant one for the defendant, who has only just turned 18, and reflects the seriousness of the offending.
“This kind of behaviour is inexcusable, will not be tolerated and will be dealt with by the full force of the law. No-one has the right to do what Bennett has done.
“I’d like to thank the victim for her courage and strength in coming forward to report this and her ongoing support throughout the court process. Her evidence has enabled us to put a dangerous man behind bars. I would strongly encourage all victims and witnesses in cases involving any kind of sexual abuse to come forward to report them.”
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