Sheffield man who admitted to sexual activity with a child walks away from court with suspended sentence

“I’m not convinced you’re on your way to becoming a sex offender, although you have committed a sexual offence,” a judge said as he handed a Sheffield man a suspended sentence for sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl.

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 1:27 pm
Turner was sentenced during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today (Friday, April 26)

Judge Graham Reeds QC sentenced Stephen Turner, 33, to six months, suspended for 18 months, for two counts of sexual activity with a child, during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today.

Both offences were committed against the same 14-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

In a gut-wrenching victim personal statement read to the court, the girl described the impact Turner’s offending continues to have on her life.

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“What Stephen did to me was horrible. I don’t think about it all the time, but it still comes into my head.

“I don’t like to think about it, it still upsets me,” said the girl.

She added: “I now find it hard to trust people if I don’t know them...I’m worried when I meet new people.”

Nicola Quinney, prosecuting, said Turner, of Askew Court, Stocksbridge committed the first offence when he took the girl to Ewden Dam in Stocksbridge, and tried to persuade her to go ‘skinny dipping’ with him.

Turner subsequently stripped to his boxer shorts, and rubbed his genitals against her thigh, the court heard.

Ms Quinney described how in a separate incident, Turner pinned the girl against a wall in a ‘non-violent way’ and kissed her passionately.

Turner’s offending came to light when the girl told a school teacher about what had happened to her.

The girl’s parents and the police were subsequently informed of the allegations against Turner, who is employed as a scaffolder.

Turner, who has previously been convicted of an offence of battery committed against his wife, pleaded guilty to two offences of sexual activity with a child in earlier hearings.

Brigid Baillie, defending, said Turner had acknowledged his offending through his guilty pleas, and had never intended for either party to get naked during the ‘skinny dipping’ incident.

“It appears he wasn’t thinking clearly. Anyone who takes a 14-year-old girl down to a dam when it’s dark is not thinking clearly,” said Ms Baillie.

Ms Baillie said Turner had informed both his partner and his employer of his crimes.

She conceded that the author of Turner’s pre-sentence report had assessed him to be a ‘medium risk of committing further offences and causing serious harm’.

Judge Reeds said he felt able to suspend Turner’s prison sentence because he believed there was a ‘realistic prospect of rehabilitation’.

“I’m not convinced you’re on your way to becoming a sex offender, although you have committed a sexual offence,” said Judge Reeds.

He added: “If you had carried on this behaviour or if the behaviour on either occasion had gone beyond what you have admitted or what has been proven, there is no doubt, you would have been starting an immediate custodial sentence.”

Turner was ordered to place himself on the sex offenders’ register from the date he entered his first guilty plea.

Judge Reeds also made Turner the subject of a three-year sexual harm prevention order, the purpose of which is to try and prevent Turner from committing more sexual crimes by imposing a set of conditions which limit his use of the internet and his contact with children under the age of 16.