James Anderson was jailed today (January 2) for 32 months by a judge who said a case against him revealed “serious predatory sexual behaviour towards young teenage girls”.
The former Uckfield town councillor and shopkeeper was appearing before His Honour Judge Jeremy Gold, QC, at Hove Trial Centre, for sentencing after pleading guilty, at a previous hearing in November at Lewes Crown Court, to six sexual offences involving three teenage girls.
Judge Gold said that while Anderson, a father of two, had sought to justify his behaviour as “banter and horseplay” it “was nothing of the kind”.
He said the youngsters were in the general age bracket of 14 and 15. They had recently gone through puberty and did not know a great deal about the ways of the world or how to deal with his behaviour.
He added: “It was unacceptable predatory sexual behaviour towards vulnerable teenage girls.
“You were a man in your late 20s, early 30s, who took advantage of these three girls in different ways.
“You clearly had sexual interest in them. I have read their victim impact statements – and I hope you have as well. Your actions towards them have significantly affected their lives and they are struggling still with the circumstances of your behaviour towards them.”
Earlier, the judge told 34-year-old Anderson it was a great shame to see a man like him, of previous good character, standing in a criminal court with the judge needing to sentence him for serious sexual offences against youngsters.
He said he had read a pre-sentence report and many references submitted on Anderson’s behalf by those who thought highly of him, not just his family but also friends, acquaintances and people he came across in business.
“Also it is fair to say you spent time as a local man in Uckfield doing good works for the community. That is all to your credit.”
In addition, the judge said he listened with care to Miss Rebecca Upton, who defended Anderson in court. She said that very often in this sort of situation it was the family who suffered, rather than him.
Judge Gold said Anderson’s wife was strong and had resolved to stand by him despite the serious offences to which he had pleaded guilty.
He said this was to her great credit and the support of Anderson’s family would, no doubt, be essential in months to come.
The judge said he would reduce the prison sentence by 10% to take account of Anderson’s guilty pleas before a trial took place. That meant he would serve a total of 32 months, a reduction of four months.
The judge explained his sentencing as it applied to the six counts admitted by Anderson.
Two of the counts related to one teenager. On one of those counts, sexual activity with a child, Anderson was sentenced to three months imprisonment, and for the other, which involved multiple incidents of sexual activity with a child, he was sentenced to eight months in prison. The sentences were to run concurrently.
For offences relating to a second teenager Anderson was sentenced to eight months for a charge of sexual activity, with a child which involved multiple incidents; 21 months for sexual assault; and 15 months for causing a person to engage in a sexual act without consent. These sentences were to run concurrently with each other but consecutively with those relating to the first teenager.
Anderson was also given a consecutive sentence of three months for sexual touching without consent.
Anderson was also ordered to register as a sex offender.