Burnley subway sex attack ‘ruined my life’

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A 17-year-old who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl under the Gannow subway has escaped a custodial sentence.

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty last month of grabbing the 13-year-old from behind, pulling her to the floor and touching her on her stomach and thighs before he ran off.

He returned to Burnley Youth Court, with his parents, for sentencing this week, where he was given a Youth Rehabilitation Order for 12 months, 24 hours at a local attendance centre and his parents had to pay £150 prosecution costs and £300 compensation.

There was no Sexual Offences Prevention Order and he will not be placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

An impact statement was read out by those acting for the teenage girl who said her life “had been turned upside down” by the attack in September.

It said: “I thought he was going to rape me and had to fight him off. My confidence has been affected, I go between feeling anxious and angry and blaming myself even though I know I am not to blame.

“I cannot go out alone and have been having counselling. I am no longer the carefree girl I was.

“I feel I hate the person who did this as he has ruined my life.”

The Youth Offenders Team have already been working with the youth, who denied the charge, and are looking into mental health issues.

Summing up, the judge told the youth: “I am not locking you up which will come as a relief as I could have by law.

“I accept not a lot happened - you knocked her to the ground and the contact was minimal over clothing. But this was planned, the whole potential scared her and scares me, the mere fact you were prepared to get to that stage worries me and there is no explanation why you chose that decision. The impact on the girl has been severe.

“I am giving you a Youth Rehabilitation Order and you will work with them for a year - the 13-year-old will have to live with this for the rest of her life but hopefully she will bounce back.”