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Bristol man sentenced to life for series of child sexual assaults

A 60-year-old Bristol man has been handed a life imprisonment for multiple child sex offences.

Steven Sutton, of Redcatch Road in Knowle, appeared at Bristol Crown Court for sentencing today (Thursday 23 March) after pleading guilty to 30 offences, including five counts of raping a child.

He was given a life sentence with a minimum of 13 years before he can apply for parole. He was also handed a lifelong Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The court heard how between July 2021 and March 2022, Sutton groomed, abused and raped a young girl and filmed the interactions and stored them on his phone and computers.

He would threaten her if she didn’t cooperate.

Body warn video of Steven Sutton being arrested.

Sutton was initially investigated for downloading indecent images of children. It was when his electronics were seized that officers discovered the extent of his criminality.

Sutton was then arrested for rape and taking indecent images and further charges were added as officers discovered footage on his devices.

In a victim impact statement, the victim’s mother described Sutton as ‘a monster’.

She said: “When the officers told me, the words to me felt surreal. I was numb. Life will never be the same again and it feels overwhelming.

“My child will never be care-free and running wild again. I hope that with years of support, we may get better. I will do everything I can to make sure [we] are okay, but it should never have happened.

“He has destroyed my family. He has broken us all in different ways. He has changed her life, changed her future and given her trauma that will affect her for the rest of her life.

“He is a danger to any child and to society. He doesn’t deserve to be free. But I want Sutton to know, he won’t break us forever. We will get stronger; we will get better.”

PC Rosie Murrell speaking about how Steven Sutton first came to police attention.

Investigating officers from our Internet Child Abuse Team, PC Rosie Murrell and DC Fiona Currey said: “This has been a harrowing case; Steven Sutton’s crimes are shocking, disturbing and upsetting. It is clear that Steven Sutton poses a real and significant risk to children.

“There is no doubt that the community is safer with him behind bars. It is difficult for the general public to imagine or comprehend someone is capable of the acts he has done to a child, nor should they have to.

“Sutton has selfishly destroyed a family. No sentence can make up for the devastating damage he has caused, nor can it take away the pain and suffering Sutton inflicted on the victim and her family. We can only hope that the substantial sentencing today will bring some level of closure to them and enable them to re-build their lives as a loving family unit.

“We would like to publicly praise the victim and her family, who have demonstrated a huge amount of dignity and incredible courage supporting this investigation. Their strength throughout is commendable and admirable.

“We hope this outcome sends a clear message to any potential perpetrators or anyone who is committing these types of unspeakable crimes, that this kind of offending will not be tolerated and that we will do everything possible to track you down and bring you to justice.

“We are absolutely committed to protecting children from those who seek to cause them harm, and will never stop in our efforts to hold you accountable for your actions.”

DC Fiona Currey speaking about the case.

PC Murrell and DC Currey also wanted to thank the support, guidance and commitment provided by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Senior Crown Prosecutor, Gemma Kneebone.

Gemma Kneebone, with the CPS South West Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) Unit, said: “This is a shocking case of sexual abuse against a young child. The CPS worked closely with our colleagues in Avon and Somerset Police to support the investigation and charge Sutton with a total of thirty offences that reflected the seriousness of his appalling actions. This work resulted in Sutton pleading guilty to all charges, which has spared the young victim and their family the ordeal of a trial.

“CPS South West is committed to delivering justice for the victims of rape and sexual assault. We are working alongside Avon and Somerset Police on an ambitious project called Operation Soteria which is testing new ways of working to improve how the CPS and police handle rape investigations and prosecutions, drive up the number of successful prosecutions and deliver justice for victims.”

Senior Investigating Officer DI Adam Knee said: “I would like to praise the efforts of investigating officers PC Rosie Murrell and DC Fiona Currey. I cannot overstate the resilience they have shown in having to view this horrific material and continuing in the professional manner needed to bring about the sentence passed today.”

His Honour Judge Peter Blair commended police for their investigation, especially PC Murrell and DC Currey.

If you have been affected by child sexual abuse, you can contact the police on 101 and speak to a police officer in confidence.

We recognise that not everyone has the confidence or is ready to speak to police, but there are support services available that can help you if you are a victim of abuse.

Victims of rape or sexual assault, recent or non-recent, can self-refer to The Bridge, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre available 24/7 365 days a year. Visit their website at www.thebridgecanhelp.org.uk or call 0117 342 6999.

You can also visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org for details of charities and organisations who are experts in supporting victims.