Child sex offender jailed for four years

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The family of one of the victims of a Pendle child sex offender have expressed their satisfaction after he was jailed for four years at Burnley Crown Court on Thursday afternoon.

Kenneth Ridehalgh (57), whose address was given in court as Edward Street, Nelson but who has lived in addresses in Colne for many years, had denied a string of offences dating back 20 years and had been acquitted of most of them at an earlier hearing.

But he had been convicted of two – one of sexual activity with a child and another of indecent assault and received a four-year sentence on the former charge, and a 12-month concurrent sentence on the second.

And after sentencing, the family of one of the victims said: “We are happy with the result and would hope that any other victims of Ridehalgh now come forward.

“It is a very sad story but thank God it is all behind us.”

At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Miss Kathryn Johnson (prosecuting) said Ridehalgh had begun a relationship with one of the victims when she was 15, when the pair first had sex. The relationship continued for a time after her 16th birthday.

The second, younger victim was indecently assaulted while staying at Ridehalgh’s house overnight, when Ridehalgh got into the girl’s bed and committed the offence.

She said Ridehalgh had sent text messages in the recent past to one of the victims which, although not of a threatening nature, had upset and distressed her.

Ridehalgh had been arrested at a house in Gibfield Road, Colne in connection with this but had not been charged, she said.

Miss Rosalind Emsley-Smith (defending) said that Ridehalgh continued to deny the offences and that he retained the support of his family and friends, who all spoke of the positive aspects of his character.

She said the indecent assault was a “one off incident” after he had consumed alcohol and there had been no reoffending since.

She said social services had been happy with the care he had provided for his grandchildren and the probation report said a suspended sentence with supervision could be imposed given the length of time since the offences.

The court issued a restraining order preventing Ridehalgh contacting the victims for two years.