Three victims of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of a Sheffield NHS worker have been praised for their bravery.
Owen Smith, aged 50, who abused his position as a mental health worker to rape and sexually assault his victims, was branded ‘despicable’ and ‘disgraceful’ by a senior officer today.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how Smith, of Hawley Street, Sheffield, used his position within the NHS to gain the trust of his victims, who were vulnerable teenage girls and young women.
The court heard how Smith plied his victims with drink and drugs, used an NHS company car to talk to one of the victims and used his work phone to contact them.
Smith was found guilty of five counts of rape, two counts of sexual assault and one count of trafficking within the UK.
He was found not guilty of one count of trafficking within the UK.
Detective Constable Stephen Evans, from Sheffield’s child sexual exploitation team, said: “Smith preyed on vulnerable girls and women at risk of sexual exploitation, abusing his position as a mental health worker to gain access to their lives.
“He should have been someone the victims could trust, that the victims could turn to for help. Instead, he used them for his own sexual gratification, which is simply despicable.
“I want to thank the victims for their courage throughout a lengthy police investigation and court trial, where they had to relive Smith’s abuse before a jury. That is an incredibly difficult and distressing experience and I commend them for their bravery.
“I am pleased with the verdicts reached today by the jury and I sincerely hope that this offers the victims, all of whom remain incredibly vulnerable, some small form of comfort knowing that this disgraceful person is behind bars for his crimes.
“Please let this positive result act as further reassurance to victims and survivors of sexual abuse that we are determined to bring offenders of this vile crime to justice and we’d urge anyone with concerns or anyone suffering sexual exploitation to come forward.”
Smith has been remanded in custody to be sentenced on Tuesday 10 May 2016.
To report concerns for a child, or if you wish to report child sexual exploitation, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You can also call or text the national helpline Say Something on 116 000.