Brierfield man found guilty of sex attack on tot

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.

A Brierfield man has been found guilty of one count of indecent assault and another of a threat to kill after a week-long trial.

Robert Penman (28), of Arthur Street, Brierfield, may be facing jail after Judge Jonathan Gibson said that “custody was uppermost in his mind”.

Penman was cleared of six other indecent assault allegations and two of gross indecency with a child.

He has been bailed until May 24th to allow a pre-sentence report to be completed and he signed the sex offenders register.

A schoolgirl’s diary had recounted a sex assault when she was a tot, Burnley Crown Court was told, but Penman, who was alleged to have assaulted her and her sister, denied he had ever touched them.

Penman told the jury he had had to cope for years with allegation and rumour perpetrated by the girls’ large extended family.

He said he had been beaten up because of them, and that he had also gone to the police in an attempt to clear his name, but that nothing was done because no complaint had been made.

The court heard the alleged assault on one girl happened when Penman was a visitor to their home that was a place where many relatives and friends called.

He said he had been to the house in Nelson 12 to 18 months earlier because he was a good friend of the girls’ elder brother at school, but that at the time of the allegations he was not often there.

Penman said he had been “upset and angry” when he heard police had been called 10 years after what he said were unfounded allegations were first made.

He went to a friend’s house to find out more and was surprised to see the girls’ mother there. He admitted using “atrocious language”.

“If she thought something had happened she should have gone to the police years ago. It is not the girl’s fault. She’s been neglected and people have put things into her head. Nothing ever happened. I’ve never done anything like that to any child. I blame the mother.”