Sheffield man jailed for 15 years after jury find him guilty of numerous child sex offences
A Sheffield man has been jailed for 15 years after he was convicted of a catalogue of child sex offences that began when his victim was just 11 years old.
A jury found Mark Searles, 58, of Queen Street, Chapeltown guilty of five counts of sexual assault on a child under the age of 13 and three counts of assault by penetration yesterday afternoon, following a one week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
He was acquitted of a single count of rape.
Judge Roger Thomas QC jailed Searles for 15 years and placed him on the sex offenders’ register for life.
He has also been made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for life.
The offences were carried out against one victim, Child A, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
During the opening of the trial on Monday, prosecutor, Louise Reevell, told the jury of eight men and four women that the alleged abuse was reported to the police after Child A confided in a school teacher in January last year.
The matter was subsequently passed to a safeguarding officer at the school, and Child A was then interviewed by the police in March 2018.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
The jury were shown a video recording of the interview, in which Child A said they asked Searles ‘what are you doing’ on at least two occasions when he sexually touched them.
Child A said: “He said it was because my belly was making a weird noise, and because I was 11 I thought that was pretty reasonable.”
The court was told that Child A did not immediately confide in anyone about the alleged abuse.
“I didn’t tell anyone, because it wasn’t easy to say,” the child said.
They added: “I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”
Searles was interviewed by police in April 2018, and denied all of the allegations.
- South Yorkshire Police have been asked to provide a custody image of Searles