Paedophile handed five-year jail term

A FORMER clairvoyant, who set up a spiritualist church in Filey, has been jailed for five years after admitting sexually abusing a young girl.

John Bland, 49, of Cromwell Parade in Scarborough, who admitted 11 counts of indecent assault on the girl, fought back his tears in the dock at York Crown Court as prosecutor Robert Galley described the extent of the abuse.

He said it started with inappropriate touching, which became more intimate as the girl got older.

Bland told the girl she must not tell anyone – but she finally revealed all to her mother when she became concerned about Bland’s relationship with another girl.

The court heard he had previously been given a three-year community sentence for four offences of indecent assault on adults when he was running the spiritualist church in Filey.

Bland admitting forcing kisses and cuddles on women who came into his care between 2002 and 2003.

Brian Jepson, in mitigation, said his client fully accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed his remorse. “He effectively broke down and was highly emotional,” said Mr Jepson, who also represented Bland in 2003.

“He understands he needs help, and he feels if he gets treatment perhaps there could also be an investigation into whether he was possibly a victim himself, which may explain the way he is.

“Of course it doesn’t excuse him from what he has perpetrated.”

Recorder Stephen Ashurst described Bland as “an inadequate man” and referring to a victim statement from the girl, added: “You told her not to tell anyone, and carried on until she was nearly 15. It still may be too early to tell the long-term consequences, but it is to be hoped that with the support of her boyfriend she will come to survive what you did to her.

“She is hopeful that during the sentence you serve you receive appropriate help, thus reducing the risk you may pose to the public when you are released.”

Judge Ashurst said Bland would have to register his address with the police indefinitely under the provisions of the Sex Offenders Act and he would be disqualified for life from working with children.

For 10 years after his release he will also be subject to a number of restrictions over his contact with anyone under the age of 16.