Jail for stables boss who abused teenage girl over a decade ago
A RIDING stables boss who had a sexual relationship with a girl less than half his age has been jailed.
James Richards, who ran the Dunton Stables at Bodymoor Heath in north Warwickshire, had denied a number of charges of indecently assaulting the girl in the early 2000s.
But on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court he pleaded guilty to four charges of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child.
Richards, 61, of Farthing Lane, Curdworth, near Sutton Coldfield, was jailed for two-and-a-half years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
Gary Rutter, prosecuting, said that in the early 2000s a 15-yearold girl from north Warwickshire who loved horses, but whose family could not afford one, began to go to the stables.
Although his partner at the time also worked there, Richards, who the girl thought of as ‘ an attractive man,’ was flirtatious towards her and would give her lifts home.
She could not remember the first time anything happened, but when she was at the stables during the school holidays, she remembered kissing him on an almost daily basis.
Richards progressed from stroking her body to touching her breasts over her clothing, and then to touching her more intimately under her clothes.
She would also touch him, and on one occasion the girl performed a sex act on him when she was with him in a horse box as he was driving on a motorway.
They also exchanged email messages which were later seen by his partner, said Mr Rutter.
At the time the girl protected Richards, knowing that what was happening was wrong – and matters only came to light after she began receiving counselling two years ago.
When Richards was first questioned by the police, he denied having had any sexual contact with the girl.
But in a later interview he accepted it had taken place, blaming it on an infatuation, and accepting he knew her age.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC commented: “He made significant admissions which he then sought to resile from by way of legal arguments.”
Oliver Weetch, defending, said: “Mr Richards is 60 years of age.
“He has had in his adult life ageappropriate relationships both before and after this. It was entirely out of character for him to behave in the way he did.
“It happened at a time when he was in an unhappy relationship at work.
“He wasn’t married to his partner, but there were problems in the relationship.
“He has worked all his life in the stables that he’s run, and he has helped a large number of people.
“They include charities he has supported which help disabled and disadvantaged children. That business has closed as a result of this matter.
“I would suggest Your Honour could get to a sentence which could be suspended. He is not likely to come before the courts again.”
But, jailing Richards, Judge Lockhart told him: “I find this was significant sexual abuse of a young girl across the summer by a man more than double her age.
“She cannot make it go away. Therapy has allowed her to bring this matter out. There can be no doubt this has had a significant impact on her.
“Across the course of the summer you inveigled yourself into her thoughts.
“There was planning and there was grooming, and there was a significant disparity in age.”
She cannot make it go away. There can be no doubt this has had a significant impact on her Judge
> James Richards