A COUPLE who fostered a troubled teenaged were left devastated after he crept into their eight-year-old daughter’s bedroom and sexually abused her.

The 19-year-old, who cannot be identified, had been taken in as part of the family at their home on Dartmoor but he abused their trust by creeping into the girl’s bedroom at 5 am and putting his hands under the covers. 

She woke up to find him abusing her and she went straight to tell her mother what he had done. He tried to deny it but he had left a rolled up cigarette next to her bed as he fled. 

He later confessed that he had little memory of what he had done because he had been smoking cannabis and drinking before carrying out the attack.

He locked himself in his bedroom when police arrived and had wiped the entire memory of his iPhone by the time they persuaded him to open the door, Exeter Crown Court was told. 

The defendant, now aged 21 and living in Essex, admitted sexual assault of a child and was jailed for six months, suspended for 18 months and sent on a 40 session sex offenders’ course by Recorder Mr Andrew Oldland, KC.

He was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order which restricts his contact with children. 

He told him: ‘You have had the courage to plead guilty. The importance of that cannot be overstated because the young victim will know that she has been believed.

‘I take into account your basis of plea but simply observe that it doesn’t help you. The fact that you may not recall because of cannabis and alcohol, if anything, aggravates rather than mitigates this offence.

‘The girl’s personal statement shows she is still suffering anxiety and the incident has clearly not left her more than two years later. She is unable to trust men. That is the type of effect which offences of this sort have on a young girl.’ 

Miss Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said the sexual assault took place at about 5 am on August 23, 2021, when the girl woke to find the defendant touching her private parts over her pyjamas.

He fled when he realised she was awake and left his phone and a rolled up cigarette next to the bed. She took the phone with her but put it down on the landing before going into  to her parents bedroom. 

It had been wiped by the time the police recovered it later that day but there was nothing incriminating on the teenager’s iCloud. A pair of girl’s knickers was found in his room.

The girl’s victim impact statement said: ‘I was completely shaken. I did not start to calm down until I got into my parents’ room. When I heard the police have taken him away, I felt safer.’

Her mother said the girl has difficulty in trusting people and had missed out on going to sleepover parties with her friends because she was too scared to. 

She said: ‘I feel bad that I did not see the signs and was not able to protect her.’

Both parents said they felt sorry for the teenager, who had lost his home and his family as a result of his actions. 

Mr Paul Dentith, defending, said the defendant had been able to rebuild his life and has been working and has reduced his use of cannabis and alcohol. He has been assessed as a good prospect for rehabilitation by the probation service.

He had a very difficult background in which his single mother was a drug user, leading him to be taken into care at the age of 13 and then fostered by the family in Devon.