CHILD-ABUSE TRIAL: previous sexual assault that “came back to haunt” Mansfield man

NEWS from Nottingham Crown Court.

NEWS from Nottingham Crown Court.

In the words of his own barrister, Dominic Shelley, this was the trial in which John Lett’s past as a child abuser “came back to haunt him”.

Part of the prosecution case against him at Nottingham Crown Court was reference to a conviction in November 2013 when he was jailed for two years for sexually assaulting a three-year-old girl and for possessing more than 17,000 indecent images that he had downloaded on to his computer.

The offences happened at about the same time as the alleged abuse Lett was accused of in this latest trial.

And it was when this victim’s mother found out about Lett’s past that she triggered the police investigation.

Mr Shelley urged the jury not to turn the trial into “a witch-hunt” and said: “Don’t convict him because he did it before.

“These allegations were disgusting, but you need to get rid of preconceptions. He has paid his price.”

The judge, Recorder Stuart Sprawson, also preached the same message, saying: “This previous conviction cannot prove his guilt for these offences.

But he added: “It is relevant because it shows that he has a propensity to commit this type of offence. The prosecution in this case say he befriended the girl’s father as a means of getting to her.”

The court heard that when arrested again in October last year and interviewed by the police, Lett was asked about his interest in young girls and why he had collected so many photos. Part of his explanation was that, in the past, he felt he should have been a woman.

He insisted he was not sexually excited by young girls and preferred skinny adult sports stars such as Paula Radcliffe and Maria Sharapova.

Instead, Lett said, the images were “all to do with the body shape”. “It was nothing sexual,” he added. “It was how I perceived at the time that I should be. I thought I should be female, so I wanted to see how I should look.”

Lett, who has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 40 years, said he had “accepted responsibility” for his previous conviction and had served his sentence. “But now I must be hated by one and all,” he told the court.

After the jury had delivered its verdict, the court was told of two other previous convictions on Lett’s record. In 1992, he received a two-year probation order for indecently assaulting a girl aged under 14, and in 2015, he was fined for soliciting a woman for prostitution.