Suffolk man jailed for sex attack on girl, 12

A SERIAL sex offender has been jailed for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old.

A SERIAL sex offender has been jailed for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old.

Michael Collyer, of Hundon Place, Haverhill, was sentenced to nine years behind bars for the attack on a young girl in the town.

Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday how the 37-year-old had dragged the girl into bushes before engaging in a penetrative sex act last July.

Collyer's victim had been walking with a friend along a footpath near a disused railway line when the attack happened.

One of the girls managed to struggle free and contact the police, who arrested Collyer five weeks later based on DNA evidence and CCTV footage of him entering the town centre from the direction of where the attack happened.

The court heard how Collyer had threatened to “come after” his victim if she told anyone about the attack. She was left with scratches on her upper arms and a red mark on her neck where she had been grabbed by her attacker.

Most Read

According to the girl's parents, she had since lost confidence, had become distrustful of adults and refused to walk the family dog for fear of her safety.

The court heard evidence from psychiatric reports compiled after Collyer pleaded guilty to the assault on June 18 - days before his trial was due to begin.

Martyn Levett, prosecuting, read from a report into Collyer's mental state following a similar incident in 1986 when he took an eight-year-old girl into undergrowth and attempted to rape her.

A 14-year-old at the time, he was sentenced to five years in a detention centre.

Pre-sentence reports also revealed previous convictions for taking indecent images of children in 2003 and for sending a sexually explicit text message in 2005 to a 13-year-old girl, whose phone number he obtained after selling her a mobile top-up at a Haverhill petrol station where he worked at the time.

Mr Levett said Collyer was sacked from the job, six months before the attack on a girl in Haverhill, for displaying “a habit of making inappropriate comments to young girls aged 12 to 15”.

In police interviews following his most recent crime, Collyer said he had no recollection of the attack but admitted using internet chat rooms for up to six hours a day for sexual gratification.

Matthew McNiff, defending Collyer, said his client's failure to recall the incident had been consistent throughout the investigation until mounting evidence led to an admission of guilt. “The late arrival of his guilty plea, though not made at the earliest opportunity, was not a result of typical 'door of the court' syndrome,” he said.

Mr McNiff called the attack “opportunistic” and “momentary in terms of the time the victim was subject to it”.

“No one else had to intervene and in effect she was freed by the defendant. There was happily no significant physical injury caused to her,” he added.

“He is not a totally lost cause and the author of the pre-sentence report observes that he recognises the extent of the offence and is willing to address his behaviour. So many in this position do not engage.

“He is someone about whom those with tremendous experience talk positively.

“The defendant, for what it is worth, apologises.”

Judge John Devaux sentenced Collyer to nine years in prison, less 367 days he had already spent in custody.

He was also disqualified from working with children indefinitely and ordered to register as a sex offender.

Three other child-related charges, including child pornography allegations, were allowed to stay on file.

Judge Devaux said: “The victim suffered some physical harm but the attack clearly had a most profound affect on her emotionally and at the time she thought she was going to die.

“An assault on a child under 13 by penetration is punishable by life imprisonment but I do not consider it serious enough to warrant such a sentence.”