A Sudbury woman who helped run a band has been jailed for having a sexual relationship with a schoolgirl almost 20 years ago.
Janess Gilpin, 56, had befriended the teenager who called at her home for early morning sex sessions while on her paper round, Ipswich Crown Court heard today (Thursday).
The girl, who was having family problems, was befriended by Gilpin who told the girl that she loved her.
A sexual relationship developed between them, said Richard Scott, prosecuting, beginning with kissing and leading later to mutual fondling and touching.
Trysts took place at Gilpin’s home and in toilets at Belle Vue Park in Sudbury. A year after their relationship began, Gilpin had also given the girl a ring engraved with “I love you”, said Mr Scott.
The girl had made a “significant emotional investment” in Gilpin, said Mr Scott and would some days skip school to meet with her.
When the relationship was broken off by the girl, Gilpin did not take it well, the court heard.
Mr Scott said: “She was clearly and profoundly upset.”
The offending came to light after the girl contacted Gilpin saying she was concerned about her own sexuality. Gilpin told her that she feared “the police might eventually knock on my door.”
Mr Scott said: “It became clear that what had gone on between the two of them could properly be characterised as abuse. It seems at that stage that Mrs Gilpin regarded that was what it was.”
Gilpin, of Second Avenue, Sudbury, was arrested in May last year and initially denied any sexual activity with the girl. Gilpin was due to stand trial but changed her plea to guilty on three offences of sexual assault last month.
Defending, Joanne Eley said no further offences had been committed by Gilpin since the girl broke off the relationship almost 20 years ago.
Gilpin, who was now confined to a wheelchair suffering from multiple sclerosis, needed 24 hour care. Gilpin had no previous convictions.
Jailing her for 18 months, Judge Rupert Overbury told Gilpin: “You groomed her for your own sexual purposes. This was done slowly and deliberately with some pre-meditation,”
Judge Overbury said the girl had been left suffering from nightmares and had required counselling.
The offending amounted to the abuse of a child for Gilpin’s own sexual gratification, said Judge Overbury. Suspending the sentence would send out the wrong message,” he added.
Gilpin was ordered to sign the sexual offences register.