Jail for sta­bles boss who abused teenage girl over a decade ago

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

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

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