Gas safety firm owner denies sex abuse of youngsters
AWEST Lancashire businessman is facing trial accused of molesting four girls and exposing himself to children walking past his office.
Robert Darby, 57, who lives in Scarisbrick, is alleged to have abused the youngsters in the 1990s and 2000s.
Darby, who owns Total Gas Safety, in Ainsdale, Southport, is also accused of exposing himself to three children, who went to look at a puppy in the window of his office in Segars Lane in 2015.
The married dad-ofthree, formerly of Liverpool Road, Southport, is further alleged to have downloaded indecent images of children.
Darby, of Dam Wood Lane, denies 14 sexual offences in a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
Gerald Baxter, prosecuting, said the first complaint against Darby was made by a woman in October, 2015.
She said that she visited his home as a child and saw him sitting in a dressing gown with no underwear on.
The woman said that on another occasion he told her to come upstairs and collect a “fart machine” toy. But she found him lying on his bed wearing only headphones, with his eyes closed and performing a sex act.
On another occasion, she said, she stayed at his house and he put her in his bed with his sleeping wife, Debbie, and pressed against her.
When arrested by police, Darby said that nothing had ever happened, but his wife may have invited the girl into their bed if she was distressed.
A second woman told officers that Darby had lifted up her nightie – so she was just in her underwear – and made her lie across his lap.
She said that he tickled and massaged her back, which “felt weird and uncomfortable”, but he was a persuasive adult and she was just a child.
A third woman told police that he made her take a bath in front of him, despite her protests and the intervention of his wife.
A fourth said that Darby asked her to help him with hypnotism and told her to come to his bedroom.
She recalled finding him naked, kneeling on the bed and performing a sex act, adding that he asked her to count down from 10 before she left.
Darby denied all the allegations and said he could not think why the women would make them.
Mr Baxter said that a little girl walked past a glass door at Total Gas Safety and spotted a Labrador puppy in February, 2015.
She caught up with her friend’s mum and said she saw a man who had “pulled down his pants and undies”.
Two more little girls walked past and saw the puppy, before also complaining that a man had exposed himself to them.
Police later viewed the shop’s CCTV footage, which showed Darby arriving before the children looked through the glass door.
When he was arrested for indecent exposure, Darby said: “Absolutely not, I’m just in shock.”
He said that he had a spine operation and struggled passing water and had rolled up his trouser leg due to a cut to his knee, but denied pulling down his pants.
Darby was interviewed again after the girls gave video interviews to police.
Mr Baxter said: “This time he said that he did remove his trousers and underpants because the surgery to his spine made it difficult to control his bladder and he had wet himself.”
Darby was arrested and his laptop seized, which was found to contain around 10 indecent images.
He said that he knew nothing about them, stating that his family often uploaded photos and former employees may have also accessed it.
Mr Baxter said: “You will hear descriptions of the images. These are clearly not family or holiday snaps.”
He said that the allegations made by seven children over a period of 25 years, plus the computer evidence, demonstrated “a pattern of behaviour”, which was “namely his sexual interest in children”.
Mr Baxter said the jury may have to decide whether any of the people who went to the police had been influenced by hearing about other complaints.
He said: “The prosecution say that is not the case, and that none of the complainants is in anyway jumping onto any bandwagon – they are simply telling the truth.” The case is proceeding. For updates, see www. Visiter.co.uk