Lancaster man jailed for raping teenage girl

Andrew Smith, of Wensley Drive, Skerton, Lancaster, who was jailed for rape and sexual assault of teenage girl
Andrew Smith, of Wensley Drive, Skerton, Lancaster, who was jailed for rape and sexual assault of teenage girl

A Lancaster man has been jailed for nine years for raping and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.

Andrew Smith, of Wensley Drive, Skerton, began grooming and abusing the child in the Wirral, near Liverpool, when she was 13 and he was in his 30s.

Smith, 47, also got the girl pregnant when she was 15.

The victim said: “It feels like my childhood was snatched from me.”

Smith, formerly of the Wirral, was found guilty of eight counts of indecent assault and one count of rape at a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.

He showed no emotion as David Polglase, prosecuting, read from a victim personal statement.

The woman said: “When he got me pregnant at 15, I went through hell. This will never leave me.”

Investigating officers traced five of her old schoolfriends, who gave eyewitness accounts during a trial of Smith’s sexual abuse and grooming.

They described how they saw him kiss, touch and have sex with the girl, while some said Smith offered rewards if they would have a threesome with him and the victim.

She said she now found it difficult to form relationships and had suffered from sleepless nights, anxiety and weight loss.

The court heard Smith, who had no previous convictions, also threatened his victim to keep quiet.

Anthony O’Donohoe, defending, accepted it was “a very grave case”.

He said: “Custody will have a significant, perhaps devastating effect on the defendant.”

Mr O’Donohoe said Smith had a cleaning business, which he will now lose, but added that his wife was standing by him.

Judge Norman Wright handed Smith an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order and ordered him to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

He said: “I’m sure you will appreciate that early teenage years are very important in girls and boys forming their sexual identity and ability to deal with sexual relationships.”

The judge added: “The psychological impact of your behaviour has been profound.

“I’m sure there will be long-term consequences affecting her because of your conduct.”

Speaking after the case, Detective Mike Gallagher, from Merseyside Police, said: “Andrew Smith is a manipulative man who preyed on an innocent young child when she was at a vulnerable stage of her life. This prosecution shows that he did not get away with it in the end and is now facing a long time behind bars.

“The victim’s bravery in coming forward and giving her evidence has been outstanding and absolutely crucial for a jury to find him guilty.

“She found the courage to report what had happened to her to the police and has been supported by us, the CPS and other agencies throughout the process.

“Specially trained officers and lawyers in Merseyside Police’s Unity team have been by her side throughout the trial to ensure that she got the chance to tell the court what Andrew Smith did to her all those years ago and see justice being done.”

A friend of the victim’s family said she would like to thank Detective Mike Gallagher, victim support, and barrister David Polglase for their help, saying they had been “absolutely amazing”.