Richmond man jailed for sexually assaulting two girls

Gabriel Barnham.

A Richmond man has been jailed for two years for sexually assaulting two young girls.

Gabriel Barnham, 37, appeared for sentence at York Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual assaulting a child under 13 years of age.

Prosecutor Paul Reid said that Barnham, a married father-of-two, had terrified the girls who were very young at the time of the offences at a property on the North Yorkshire coast.

One of the girls was hysterical following the attacks in which Barnham had been “talking weird” to them.

The court heard she was now a “broken little girl suffering nightmares”.

Mr Reid said the two girls were “shaking and nearly crying” during their ordeal.

Following his arrest in February last year, Barnham claimed the allegations were “ridiculous” and insisted he had not sexually assaulted the girls nor made any sexual comments.

He initially denied two counts of sexual assault but ultimately admitted the offences after the case had been set down for trial.

A probation report stated that Barnham presented a “high risk to pre-pubescent children”.

Annelise Haugstad, for Barnham, said the sex attacks were “impulsive” and had occurred at a time when her client was drinking heavily and had mental health issues, including long-standing depression and a lower-than-average intellect.

She said Barnham, who had never been in trouble before, felt “shame and disgust” at his actions and was genuinely remorseful.

Ms Haugstad added that Barnham, an agency kitchen worker, didn’t ordinarily have a sexual preference for children.

“He said he was appalled at what the young victims had gone through and what they have experienced,” she said.

Barnham, of Victoria Stable Yard, Richmond, had since been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings because he “recognised that alcohol played no small part in the offences”.

Mr Recorder Preston said he had noted that Barnham had “leered” at one of the girls and repeatedly tried to kiss her, making her frightened and nervous, before sexually assaulting her.

He told Barnham: “I’m told you are genuinely remorseful about what you did, but I find that hard to believe given the lateness of your pleas and you told a probation officer that you don’t remember doing it.

“You took the opportunity to sexually abuse two young children.

“One of the victims is now described as a broken little girl suffering nightmares.

“You caused untold damage to at least one of the girls that might affect her forever.

“You are a family man and you have acknowledged you have brought shame on your family and the suffering you have caused, not only to these two little girls but to their families.”

Barnham was jailed for 25 months, of which he will serve half behind bars before being released on licence.

He was also put on the sex-offenders’ register and made subject to a ten-year sexual-harm prevention order to limit his contact with children.