Abuser gets 12 years for schoolgirl's stolen childhood

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

An abuser has been jailed for wrecking the childhood of a 13-year-old schoolgirl who he groomed before forcing her to have sex with him. 

Julian Wakeham flattered the teenager by paying her attention and buying her gifts and alcohol but started having sex with her when she was just 14. 

He encouraged her to bunk off school so he could take her for car rides around North Devon during which they had sex in country lanes or at an abandoned airfield. 

He made her pretend to be four years older than she was so he could take her to visit his parents in Gunnislake and have sex with her at their home. 

Wakeham got her to tell her parents that she was working as a DJ in clubs so he could take her out at weekends. On other occasions, he met her for sex after she had climbed out of her bedroom window. 

He went on to encourage her to leave home when she was 16 but then became violent towards her and raped her repeatedly over three years until she left him. 

The victim is now being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and told in an impact statement how she is suffering a life sentence of psychological misery. 

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Former trucker Wakeham, aged 52, of Victoria Road, Plymouth, admitted three counts of indecent assault and three of rape and was jailed for 12 years and two months by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court. 

He told him: “You encouraged the victim to engage in deliberate deceptions so you could keep your illegal relationship a secret and enable you to spend nights together. 

“Later, you resorted to bullying and aggression and used your greater size and strength in an attempt to control her personal freedom to suit your domestic preferences and needs and there were further rapes. 

“By the time she was 19, she felt in her words ‘hollowed out and scared of life’ but still found the courage and strength to leave you. 

“You took advantage of her lack of worldly experience. You exploited her naivety, grooming her so she was thankful for the attention you showed her. Perhaps she was struck by the glamour of an illicit relationship. Perhaps she didn’t know any better. 

“You took from her a significant portion of her childhood. You accelerated her life well before time and did so because it gave you what you desired – a ready source of sexual gratification. 

“It is right to say you caused her severe psychological harm.” 

Miss Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said the relationship started when Wakeham was 32 and living in Westward Ho! and the girl was 13. He groomed her by taking her on shopping trips to Barnstaple and to pubs. 

They first had sex at his house when she was 14 and carried on in locations including country lanes, Davidstow airfield, and his parents’ home in Gunnislake, where he made her claim to be four years older than she was. 

The first rape happened when she was staying at Gunnislake and he forced to have sex even though they were sharing a room with his two sons and a stepson.  

He went on to rape her again when they were living together and his behaviour became violent and controlling. He threatened to hire a hitman to kill her family if she resisted. 

She made a victim personal statement saying her distress has been increased by the four years it has taken for the case to be sentenced since she first went to the police in 2017. 

She said her education had been damaged by him encouraging her to truant and she suffers flashbacks if she visits the places where she was abused. 

She said: “I have had depression and anxiety for the whole of my adult life and been diagnosed with severe PTSD. It has almost pushed me over the edge on so many occasions. 

“I feel as if I am serving a life sentence and for all this time, he has been able to lead a free and happy life.” 

Mr Deni Matthews, defending, said Wakeham had shown his remorse by admitting his actions. He has done nothing similar in the 15 years since these events. 

His mother is in a care home and his father is frail and living on his own and it is likely that Wakeham will be in prison when they both pass away. 

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