The UK's fastest-growing regional news network
°C | 4°C
15°C | 5°C
14°C | 6°C
See the full forecast for your area.
Sponsored by Britelite.
Home Gravesend News Article
A pervert who branded a young girl a liar when she accused him of molesting her has been jailed for nine years.
Matthew Underwood was arrested after the youngster confided in a relative she "had a secret, but wasn't allowed to tell".
But the girl then revealed how the 34-year-old had abused her. This included making her touch his genitals as well as performing sex acts.
She later described Underwood in a note as a "dirty man". After his arrest, Underwood denied any sexual activity with the girl.
However, Maidstone Crown Court heard that on the day his trial was due to start he admitted four offences of sexual assault and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
"Any harm caused may be very long-standing, and it is impossible to assess the impact of your crime on someone so young.." - Judge Philip St. John-Stevens
He denied two charges of rape and four of assault by penetration and these were left on the court file.
Passing concurrent sentences ranging between four years and nine years, Judge Philip St. John-Stevens said the affect of Underwood's abuse on his victim was yet to be determined.
"Any harm caused may be very long-standing, and it is impossible to assess the impact of your crime on someone so young," he said.
"It must be understood that whatever sentence I pass is not meant to compensate for the anguish upon that young child or her mother. The affect one does not know and cannot be determined."
Upon his release, Underwood, formerly from Gravesend but now of no fixed address, must sign on the sex offender register indefinitely.
He was also made subject to a sexual offences prevention order and barred from working with children.
Prosecutor Simon Stirling said the girl, having confided in one relative, then repeated the accusations to others.
She later told police Underwood pulled his jeans down, exposed himself and got her to perform a sex act.
"When asked how it made her feel she said: 'I think it's disgusting'," added the prosecutor.
The court heard Underwood also performed a sex act on the girl. "He told her she would have to keep it a big secret," said Mr Stirling.
In a victim impact statement, the child's mother said she was now "emotional" and suffering from night terrors and bed-wetting.
James Martin, defending, said the best mitigation he could put forward on his behalf was his guilty plea and the fact it meant the child did not have to give evidence.
He added Underwood also felt remorse and shame and had attempted suicide while on remand awaiting sentence.
"He accepts what he has done was wrong and is deeply ashamed of his action," said Mr Martin.
Stories you might have missed
Click here for more news from Gravesend.
Click here for more news from around the county.