Texts and messages helped police build a case against Uckfield sex predator James Anderson, a court was told yesterday (Wednesday, January 2).
Messages between him and one girl extended to 95 pages after being printed out by police, according to Miss Amy Packham, prosecuting.
She said the police investigation began after that girl came forward in January 2017. Very soon after that a second girl reported matters to the police. Then a third girl was identified and also made a statement about her experience at the hands of Anderson.
Miss Packham said all three – who weren’t known to each other – gave a similar account of how he behaved towards them, very friendly despite the age gap, becoming over-familiar with each of them, then taking it one stage further touching each of them in a sexual way.
Anderson was yesterday sentenced to a total 32 months in prison by a judge who said the case revealed “serious predatory sexual behaviour towards young teenage girls”. Read more about what the judge said on sentencing Anderson in another Uckfield News story: James Anderson jailed for 32 months.
The girl who made the first report to police accepted she hadn’t told Anderson to stop his behaviour. Miss Packham said the girl told police she remained silent because she didn’t know how Anderson would react.
She had tried to hint about the fact she was uncomfortable about what was happening.
When asked by the police why she had not reported matters earlier she said it was because she was scared about what might happen, and felt ashamed and embarrassed about what had happened.
Then she started to have counselling and the time was simply right to disclose to her mother what happened and she then reported it to the police.
Two days before Anderson was due to be interviewed by the police about that girl’s report he contacted a second girl, told her what was happening and asked her to “have his back” if the police spoke to her.
That same day the second girl told police about Anderson’s behaviour towards herself.
Miss Packham said a number of “inappropriate” messages to the girl were found on Anderson’s phone.
The girl said she didn’t put the defendant off and responded to him, on occasions, in a positive fashion. She said she didn’t know how to respond appropriately, was intimidated by what was happening and didn’t know how to deal with it.
When Anderson first appeared in court he entered not guilty pleas to six counts in an indictment, said Miss Packham.
In preparation for trial, and at the request of the defence, further particulars were given, with the aim of helping a jury, and a ten count indictment was lodged, out of time, on the morning of November 13, 2018.
Anderson admitted six of the counts and denied four which were ordered to remain on file. That meant a trial didn’t have to go ahead and the case was adjourned until yesterday so that a pre-sentence report and a dangerousness assessment could be prepared.
Miss Packham said all three girls had prepared statements for the court about the impact of Anderson’s behaviour towards them but didn’t want them read out.
Defending Anderson Miss Rebecca Upton asked for him to be given credit for his guilty pleas.
She said that while this didn’t happen at his first appearance he did make significant admissions to her and as a result an agreement was reached with the prosecution about accepting pleas which meant there didn’t need to be a trial.
The main benefit of that was that while two of the prosecution witnesses attended court they didn’t have to give evidence.
Miss Upton told the court yesterday that Anderson was a man of previously good character and there were numerous references from family and friends about the charitable work he did for the community in which he lives.
She said the offences happened more than two years ago and Anderson knew he shouldn’t have committed the acts he did. He had clearly over-stepped boundaries and knew he needed to work on understanding the impact his behaviour had on the three young women.
Miss Upton said Anderson was now 34, and was married. His wife was in court and had written letters in support of him, and he had two children aged three and five years.
He was supported by family and friends. Those of his family who couldn’t be in court had written letters. References spoke very highly of him.
Miss Upton said Anderson was trying to start changing his behaviour. He had sold his shop, started a new career and removed himself from committees and councils he was involved with.
He was no longer involved in community work or organising public events.
Miss Upton said he was taking steps to seek professional help.
She said: “Mr Anderson is very keen to ensure he doesn’t put, not only himself, but any other young lady, or indeed his family, in this position again.”
She added he wasn’t sure whether he and his family should continue to live in Uckfield. He was concerned for them and their safety.
Embarrassment and shame
He and his family had to live with the embarrassment and shame of his actions and the main impact of that fell on on his family. His wife still had to live and work in the community and take the children to school, associating with those who now knew what her husband did.
Miss Upton said some were surprised that she was standing by him. She had considered whether she should do that.
Read what the judge had to say about Anderson’s actions in an Uckfield News report published after sentencing yesterday: James Anderson jailed for 32 months.