Sentence cut by appeal

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A FORMER Fleetwood teacher who was jailed for more than two decades after abusing a teenage pupil has had his sentence cut by appeal judges in London.

Graham Wilcock subjected his victim to numerous sexual assaults while he was a 25-year-old teaching assistant at Emmanuel Christian School in Fleetwood.

The 51-year-old later become deputy headteacher in charge of the senior school.

The attacks spanned two years in the 1980s from when the girl was 13 to 15 years old.

Wilcock was called back from his home in Romania to face the justice system after his now adult victim finally decided she wanted police involved.

Wilcock, who was staying in Poulton Road, Blackpool, after his return to the UK, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment at Preston Crown Court last June after pleading guilty to six counts of indecent assault.

But three Court of Appeal judges said his “unusually strong mitigation” meant the sentence should be reduced to three years and four months.

Mr Justice Wyn Williams told the court how Wilcock’s dealings with the then 13-year-old Fleetwood schoolgirl had begun with a fatherly arm around her shoulders.

But he had taken it further, kissing and molesting her, while often humiliating her and putting her down by making fun of her appearance, over two years.

He left the school in the 1990s when the victim became aware he was still working there and reported what had happened to her years earlier.

The school took advice from the Department of Education and Employment and sacked Wilcock, but did not inform the police as the victim had not asked for their involvement.

Wilcock then moved to Romania, where he worked for charitable organisations until 2009, when the victim decided it was then time to go to the police.

He was traced by a detective, and agreed to return to the UK, where he immediately admitted everything he was accused of.

Mr Justice Wyn Williams, sitting with Lord Justice Jackson and Judge Brian Barker, said: “The appellant admitted what he had done when challenged by his employers.

“He returned voluntarily from Romania to face the charges that, by then, he must have known were coming, and he admitted the substance of what was alleged against him at the first available opportunity. All of that clearly points to the fact his remorse in this is utterly genuine. It is also clear the period of offending with the complainant was otherwise completely out of his normal character”.