Sunday, 12 July 2015

Kids Illustrator Jailed For Sexually Abusing Two Young Girls Four Decades Ago

A disgraced children's books illustrator, who sexually abused two young girls four decades ago – molesting one when he took her out for ice-cream and groping the other as she lay in bed – has been jailed for three years and nine months.

Artist Henry Christopher Mendes, 64, of Park an Pyth, Pendeen, Penzance initially denied forcing the first girl, who was approximately eight years-old, to perform a sex act on him and running his hand up the body of the second girl, also aged around eight.

However, after hearing the two victims give evidence at Blackfriars Crown Court Mendes unexpectedly changed his plea to guilty .

Prosecutor Mr. Shaun Esprit told the jury the offences occurred in north London's Kentish Town in the late 1970's and only came to the police's attention when the first complainant reported Mendes in 2013, encouraged by her friend revealing she was also molested.

The defendant went out to go to the off-licence and he asked the first complainant if she fancied coming with him to get an ice-cream,” he told the court. “He stopped off at a pub and left her outside while he popped in.

She was left outside on her own and after what seemed to her an eternity the defendant returned and as they walked back he took her through an elevated area, which was higher up and had a swing and concrete blocks.”

This was later identified as the Lismore Circus children's play area.

The defendant made her sit down on one and she noticed he was mumbling to himself and fiddling with the zip on his trousers and she did not know what was going on.”

The girl then performed a sex act on Mendes, said Mr. Esprit. “Afterwards he seemed relieved and satisfied.”

The girl remained silent until 1989. “She blurted out what happened to her mother. It was an emotional outburst.”

The complainant later emailed Mendes. “She brought up what happened and expressed a lot of anger and was extremely emotional.”

The second complainant also told police she was targeted by the defendant, added Mr. Esprit.

She was asleep in bed and awoke and was aware of someone next to her, a man, and could hear ponderous breathing.

She did not open her eyes, but recognised the voice of the defendant saying: 'You're so beautiful' and she felt a hand under the duvet, which bit by bit moved up.

It stopped short of between her legs when a man's voice outside her bedroom door said: 'Chris, let's go to the off-licence.'

The defendant was known by his second name, Chris,” the prosecutor told the court.

Mendes was arrested and questioned by police. “He denied the assaults.”

However, during the investigation police discovered his computer contained nearly 400 sick indecent images of children, proving despite the four decades that had passed Mendes was still an active paedophile.

Detective Constable Jo Dell of the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command said: “I would like to thank both victims for their bravery in reporting these incidents to police and their ongoing support throughout the investigation.

They have shown resilience, which enabled the case to proceed to this successful conclusion. Mendes is a serial offender who has abused the trust of his friends and targeted vulnerable young girls.”

Police suspect the artist has abused more youngsters and Detective Inspector Neil Smithson said: “I would appeal to any other victims of Mendes to come forward. The Metropolitan Police will fully support you and seek to bring offenders to justice, no matter when the offences were committed.”

One of the victims said: “One of the things I would like to add is how well treated I have been by the Met Police. It has taken a long time to feel brave enough to come to the police with this, not only confronting what happened within myself, but also having to tell a total stranger.

I would have no hesitation in recommending that anyone who has experienced any type of abuse to report it, in fact I would urge them to.

It might be scary at first, but personally speaking it was a cathartic experience that has really helped me to process what happened to me.”

Mendes pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault in relation to each girl between July 8, 1976 and November 27, 1979.

He also admitted seven counts of making indecent photographs of a child and one count of possessing extreme pornographic images.

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