Former County Durham school caretaker who went on the run finally jailed for historic sex offences (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Former school caretaker finally jailed for historic sex offences
A FORMER school caretaker went to ground as police were investigating a report that he sexually abused a child, a court heard.
John Edward Smith is now starting a 12-year prison sentence after justice finally caught up with him, more than two decades after failing to answer his bail.
Durham Crown Court heard he failed to attend Newton Aycliffe Police Station at the appointed time and apparently went on the run.
It was only after the case was revisited more than 20 years later, when new information came to light in 2012, that Smith was tracked down by Durham Police to Kent, where he had apparently begun a new life.
Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said Smith was arrested when officers called at an address in Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, where he was living with a partner of 20 years, who was oblivious of his previous activities in the North-East.
Smith was charged with three counts of indecent assault, plus eight of rape and was remanded in custody.
He appeared at the court on December 20, when his barrister, Joanne Kidd, said ‘guilty’ pleas were likely to follow, once she had been able to speak to him at length about the allegations.
Miss Kidd applied for bail, presenting a letter from his partner’s GP in Kent, outlining the “sterling performance” he has given as her ‘carer’.
Refusing the application, Judge Christopher Prince told the court: “He’s been avoiding police for more than 20 years and there’s a substantial risk he might seek to avoid them for a further amount of time.
“The fact his partner has medical difficulties is not sufficient to persuade me to allow him to have bail.”
On his return to court, last week, 64-year-old Smith admitted all 11 charges.
Jailing him, Judge Prince said an aggravating feature was the fact that the allegations were left unanswered for so long, with his victim not knowing of his whereabouts.
Judge Prince said he hoped it may bring her some peace of mind that he has now been brought to justice.
Smith was also disqualified from ever working with children and he must sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.