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Bishop Middleham child abuser jailed 20 years after assault
A PENSIONER who abused a child more than 20 years ago was behind bars last night – despite a suggestion that locking him up would place a heavy burden on the prison system.
Kenneth Dove’s barrister said yesterday that his catalogue of ailments would leave resources stretched and argued that the 66-year-old was no longer a danger to young children.
But Judge Peter Bowers, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, jailed Dove for two years after hearing he still maintains his innocence despite being convicted after a trial in August.
Dove, from Bishop Middleham, near Sedgefield, County Durham, was found guilty of one charge of indecent assault, although the jury could not reach verdicts on five other counts.
His lawyer, Scott Smith, said he accepted the behaviour merited a prison sentence, but insisted the pensioner’s long list of medical problems meant the judge could suspend it.
Mr Smith suggested that a community order with a lengthy period of supervision and a night-time curfew would be more applicable than sending Dove to jail.
He said: “There is a long list of medical problems the defendant suffers from. They will place a heavy burden on the prison authorities should an immediate sentence be passed.
“Albeit, the defendant still continues to deny the offence, it is still disturbing there is no alternative disposal set out in the recommendation of the [probation] report, save custody.
“Your Honour could take the unusual step here of considering a community order – not because it doesn’t cross the custody threshold, but because it will have a longer impact.
“I submit he doesn’t necessarily pose an ongoing threat to children and would dispute the ‘high risk of sexual harm’ in the conclusion of the report. This offence was 20 years ago.
“There has been no evidence of any other complainants coming forward to talk of similar conduct. I would urge the court, on compassionate grounds, to look at alternatives.”
The balding pensioner, of South View, who arrived at court on crutches, was told by the judge: “Even taking into account your health, an immediate sentence is necessary.”