Eric William Sowden – Scarborough 

AN 88-year-old man could end his days in prison after being jailed for historic child sex offences against six young girls.

Eric William Sowden was jailed for six years at York Crown Court this week after admitting a string of indecent assault and acts of gross indecency with the girls in the late 1970s.

The court heard Sowden, recently of Columbus Ravine, Scarborough, used young relatives as ‘lures’ to bring the other girls – all aged between six and eight-years-old – to his home in York, where he carried out various indecent acts over several days in the summer of 1979.

Some of the girls were molested alone, others in front of each other, and some were given gifts – including Mr Men books and a cactus – in a form of grooming, the court heard.

Sowden was previously jailed in 1988, also for historic child sex abuse from the same period, and was released from prison in 1990.

One of the latest charges against him was brought after a woman reported her experience to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in York in December 2014, before eventually feeling confident enough to take her allegations to the police.

 Another woman was receiving treatment in Bootham Hospital in 2011 when she told doctors about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

The court was read a victim impact statement from one woman, now in her forties, who said: “He has been able to live a full life, seemingly without remorse. He hasn’t suffered, but has made others suffer instead.

He not only hurt me then as a young child, but his actions have hurt me every day of my life since.”

Laura Addy, for Sowden, told the court her client felt remorse for his actions, but judge Andrew Stubbs QC pointed out Sowden had told police in his first interview that the women were making up their allegations.

Ms Addy said that since Sowden’s release 27 years ago, he had “no family, no real friends”, a few jobs, but “very little else in his life”.

She said: “In that sense, he is a very lonely and isolated individual.

Perhaps in some ways, through choice, so he didn’t commit any further offences.”

Ms Addy said a custodial sentence had brought clarity to Sowden, who realised prison “may be where he ends his days”, and he was “scared about going into custody”, but recognised that was “akin to how the children must have felt”.

Jailing Sowden for six years and placing him on the sex offenders’ register for life, Judge Stubbs said he was “an offender of particular concern”.

He said: “It is plain that your offending has had a lasting impact and continues to have a lasting impact on your victims.

“Since these offences you have been before the court and received a sentence in 1988, which would have been the perfect opportunity to make a clean breast of what you had done.”


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