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Thursday, 28 May 2015

'Dangerous' Barrow sex offender jailed for four years

A CONVICTED child abuser who persistently behaved in a sexual manner towards young boys in Barrow has been jailed for four years.

Darren Goode
Darren Goode

Darren Goode met up with five youngsters in play areas.

He went on to sexually assault two of them by spanking them on the bottom.

Police had warned him not to associate with children, but he continued to do so.

Goode had struck up conversations with boys who had gone to stroke his dog.

He had also allowed the animal to run loose, as though lost, in order to attract children towards himself, Judge Norman Wright told yesterday’s hearing at Preston Crown Court.

Judge Wright told Goode: “This was persistent behaviour involving five young boys and despite warnings to the contrary.”

The 38-year-old of Marsh Street, Barrow, had earlier pleaded guilty to seven charges of sexual assault and five of meeting a child following sexual grooming.

The court heard how police found Goode in the company of four boys on one occasion in Barrow park in May last year. The following month, he was seen on wasteland known as The Bowl with two young boys, who went on to be returned to their parents.

The boys in the case were aged seven, 13 and three 10-year-olds.

Miss Nicola Daley, prosecuting, previously told the court that police had been made aware that the defendant had moved from Merseyside, up towards Barrow.

Members of the public had reported him acting suspiciously around public areas like Barrow park, towards the end of 2008 and the spring of last year.

No complaints had been made by any boys of sexual assault.

Nevertheless, Goode had been seen with his dog, waiting or standing by the children’s play area of Barrow park.

Children he was seen in the company of were later interviewed by police.

One 10-year-old said he had met the defendant several weeks earlier, when Goode was stood near artificial pitches with his dog. The boy and his companions had gone to stroke the dog, ending up chatting with the defendant.

Following that, he had met Goode on a number of occasions, on most nights after school and when walking around the park.

Miss Daley said: “They described playing games like chasing each other. When they ran past, the defendant would stick a hand out and grab one of them, put them over his knee and smack their bottoms. It was sexual contact over clothing.”

The court heard that he had a conviction for indecently assaulting a 10-year-old boy that had led to him being given a nine months prison sentence by Liverpool Crown Court, back in 1996.

Following that sentence, he had gone on to commit breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, and in 1989, he had been convicted of actual bodily harm assault by smacking a young boy.

A second incident occurred on June 3 last year on wasteland near Cavendish Road. Goode was seen with two boys aged seven and 10, who went on to be returned to their parents. They, too, told police a similar story.

The defendant had spoken of having lost his dog and asked if they would help him look for it.

They did not describe any contact but said they had seen the defendant on a number of occasions and had been told that if they wanted to see the dog, to go and see the defendant and walk with him.

When interviewed by police, Goode confirmed that he had moved to Barrow in 2007. He looked after his mother and had a dog, which he had to walk three or four times a day.

He said that as a result of being in the park, he had struck up a friendship with several boys.

It had all started because the children liked to stroke his dog.

Defence barrister Miss Jacinta Stringer said the sexual assaults were low grade for that type of offence. She said that Goode found it difficult to form relationships with adults due to his traumatic childhood and was drawn towards children as friends.

She said: “There is no evidence that any of these boys have suffered any psychological harm whatsoever. The way the offending came to light was not through boys making complaints, but the police going to the park. The boys were interviewed without complaints being made.

“There was no distress, anxiety and no psychological trauma as a result. None of the boys expressed in any of the interviews that what happened had in any way disturbed them.

“The offences were very unsophisticated.

In passing sentence, Judge Wright said the sexual assaults had involved light spanking of two boys on their bottoms, over their clothing.

Judge Wright said: “These were clearly sexually motivated assaults.”

Goode was told he will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life. He was also banned from working with children. The 257 days he has spent on remand will count towards his sentence. In addition, the judge made a sexual offences prevention order. The defendant will be barred from unsupervised contact, direct or indirect, with any child under 16. He is not allowed to let any child of that age group into his home, or where he is staying, unless they are supervised and must not live in the same household as anyone under 16.

After the hearing, Detective Inspector Geoff Huddleston, who led the investigation, said: “The sentence passed at court sees a dangerous offender taken off our streets and the community is safer as a result.”