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Referee abused girls over 30 year period

PUBLISHED: 17:04 06 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 23 August 2010

LOCKED UP: Jeffrey Pearton.

LOCKED UP: Jeffrey Pearton.

GIRLS as young as eight years old were abused by a football referee over a 30 year period, a court heard. Jeffrey Pearton, 58, of Oak Road, Gravesend, was sentenced to four years plus an extended licence period of two years at Maidstone Crown Court last

GIRLS as young as eight years old were abused by a football referee over a 30 year period, a court heard.

Jeffrey Pearton, 58, of Oak Road, Gravesend, was sentenced to four years plus an extended licence period of two years at Maidstone Crown Court last Friday.

He was also placed on the Sex Offenders' Register indefinitely.

The Gravesend Football League referee was convicted of seven counts of indecency with a child, five of indecent assault, and one each of sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual assault of a child under-13 and causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity during a trial March 31.

He denied all 21 charges put before him but was found guilty of 16.

Sentencing Judge Phillip Statman said: "Jeffrey Pearton the law has finally caught up with you. Between 1974 and 2006 you systematically abused eight separate victims.

"There's a pattern of offending against children over a very substantial period of time and in my judgement you have been and remain in denial and have shown no remorse."

During the trial the court heard how Pearton had started abusing children in 1974. He would expose himself to his victims, perform sex acts in front of them, squeeze their breasts and encourage them to touch him. In one case he requested his victim perform a sex act on him.

Mr Statman said: "All of these activities were performed for your own sexual enjoyment and your actions have had a long-term effect on each of your victims made more so by the fact they were here in court and gave evidence in this case and had to relive the ordeal of that which you have done to them over the years."

The string of abuse was brought to an end when a victim came forward to police in 2007. A two-year police investigation, led by DC Natalie Rickersey, then revealed a further eight victims all aged under 16 at the time of the abuse. The youngest was just eight.

DC Rickersey, who was commended by the judge, said: "We have been investigating this case for two years and are delighted with the sentencing, not just for ourselves, but for his victims who have had it hanging over them all this time.

"He thought he'd got away with it but his victims did not allow that and the sentence reflects the severity of his appalling crimes.

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