A PAEDOPHILE who sexually abused a young girl in Wickford has been jailed for two years.

Michael Cantwell was locked up for the indecent assault of a child during the 1990s.

The 78-year-old of Meadow Court, Wickford, had denied two counts against him but he was unanimously convicted by a jury of five men and seven women at Basildon Crown Court.

The victim, a girl aged under 13 at the time, told police that Cantwell made her perform a sex act on him and he performed sex acts on himself while she was in the room.

The victim did not report the crimes at the time, but found the courage to approach the police about the incident in September 2018.

The woman was interviewed by police and gave full accounts of Cantwell’s abuse, which she admitted left her in tears.

During the trial’s opening, Joanne Eley, prosecuting, told the jury: “She [the victim] goes on to say she was such a young child and did not know what it was.

“But as she got older, she now appreciates what he was doing.”

The victim went on to say that the incident “was just horrible”.


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At Cantwell’s sentencing, Daniel O’Malley, mitigating, said Cantwell being sentenced to prison would have a serious impact on his wife.

He said: “His role up until now has been a carer.

“She has a number of conditions, she suffers from blood iron deficiencies, deep vein thrombosis and depressive disorder.

“He is diabetic and is undergoing radiotherapy for prostate cancer.

“I ask the court to take into account his age and the care he does for his wife and the condition she suffers.

“His state pension has stopped and he is concerned about the financial circumstances that cascades down to his wife.”

Judge Ian Graham told Cantwell: “These were very serious offences.

“There’s no mitigation from your remorse or admissions about the offences, but I do take into account that you have no previous convictions.

“The sentence I am bound to pass is going to be as much as punishment on her [Cantwell’s wife].

“But this was serious sexual offending against a very young child.

“It can only be met with an immediate custodial sentence.”