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Ex-Christmas lights chairman James Mitchell jailed for life after 40 years of sex crimes

By Danny Boyle
James Mitchell
James Mitchell

A cold-hearted sex beast has been jailed for life for a catalogue of horrific abuse of eight victims spanning more than 40 years.

James Mitchell was sentenced to 28 years and told he would not be considered for release by the parole board until he had served 14 years.

The 56-year-old former chairman of Sittingbourne Christmas Lights Association, who continues to maintain he is innocent, showed no emotion throughout today's sentencing hearing.

Judge Philip St John-Stevens told Mitchell: "Those historical offences do not, as in many cases, stand alone in history, but mark milestones in your unrelenting journey of sexual abuse.

"The reality is that justice has caught up with your persistent life of offending from when you were 16 or 17 until you were 54-years-old."

The judge said aggravating features of the case included repeated abuse, multiple victims, a background of intimidation and coercion and the threat and use of violence.

Mitchell, of Invicta Road, Sheerness, was convicted of three offences of rape, eight of indecent assault, three of sexual activity with a child, one of gross indecency and 11 other serious sexual offences.

He was acquitted of six charges of indecent assault, two of indecency with a child and one of sexual activity with a child involving three other girls.

Maidstone Crown Court heard heartbreaking evidence from victims over nine weeks.

Sarah Ellis, prosecuting, said Mitchell had committed the abuse in many different ways over many decades.

"A number of individuals were abused a long time ago and were not able to bring themselves to formally report the allegations," she said.

Some victims spoke to partners or counsellors about they abuse they suffered.

Maidstone crown court
Maidstone crown court

James Mitchell was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court

Miss Ellis said Mitchell abused one boy 40 years ago and threatened to kill him if he told anybody.

He molested a girl, telling her it was their "little game" and their "little secret".

When she was older, she watched a TV programme about paedophiles and said she knew somebody like that and named Mitchell.

He abused another girl and threatened her with a pair of scissors. "He told her if she screamed, he would cut her throat," said the prosecutor.

He also forced himself on another boy and when the child wept, he warned: "Don't tell anyone - I will go to prison."

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