Judge: ‘Lives have been turned upside down’ due to child rapist’s ‘vile behaviour’

The shocking details of an Amble man’s campaign of abuse against a young boy were revealed in court earlier today.

Friday, 24th May 2019, 14:59 pm
John Henderson pictured six years ago in his naval uniform in Amble.

John William Henderson – who has also been discharged from the Royal Navy, where he had the rank of Leading Steward – was jailed for 14 yearsat a hearing in Newcastle Crown Court.

He had previously pleaded guilty to eight counts of rape and further charges of sexual assault and making an indecent photograph of a child.

Judge Julie Clemitson said that ‘lives have been turned upside down’ because of the 32-year-old’s ‘vile behaviour’ and wanting to ‘satisfy his own warped desires’.

The court heard after navy officials found messages on Henderson’s phone, his home was searched by the police and all electronic devices were seized.

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Judge Clemitson added: “An examination revealed you had been sexually abusing a young boy and you had been filming that abuse.

“Online conversations identified the little boy.

“You filmed your abuse of him, filmed yourself raping him and you did that a number of times.”

The mother of the victim read out a personal statement during the hearing and she was praised by the judge for her courage in ‘setting out calmly the effect his actions have had on the boy and his family’.

In the dock, Henderson’s head was bowed when this statement was read out and when the judge sentenced him.

The abuse of the boy took place between the summer of 2016 and the start of February this year.

Henderson previously admitted two counts of raping and one count of sexually assaulting a child, who was eight at the time, between August 30, 2016, and May 11, 2017, as well as one count of making an indecent photograph of a child during the same time period.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of raping and one count of sexually assaulting a child, who was nine at the time, between May 12, 2017, and May 11, 2018, as well as one count of making an indecent photograph of a child during the same time period.

The defendant admitted a further two counts of raping and one count of sexually assaulting a child, who was 10 at the time, between May 12, 2018, and February 2, 2019.

Henderson also pleaded guilty to raping a child, aged 10, on May 13, 2018, and counts 14 and 15 – raping a child, aged 10, on February 1, 2019, and sexually assaulting a child, aged 10, on February 1, 2019.

He pleaded not guilty to distributing indecent photographs of children on May 29, 2018, and no evidence was put forward for this charge, which will ‘lie on file’.

Prosector Ian Mullarkey said as well as some of the abuse being recorded on video, Henderson showed the boy adult gay pornography and pornography involving an adult and a child.

He said that when interviewed by police, the boy confirmed that the sexual activity had taken place.

He added that counts 14 and 15 were after Henderson had been interviewed as part of an investigation by the Royal Navy Police in relation to images found on his phone and the judge later said that this meant these counts were in a higher category than the other rape and sexual assault counts.

In mitigation, barrister Geoff Knowles said Henderson had served in Iraq and Libya with the Royal Navy after joining at the age of 16.

He said Henderson had ‘accepted his wrong-doing in full’ and was ‘wholly, truly and genuinely sorry’ for his actions and the effects they have had on the boy and his family.

Mr Knowles referred to a doctor’s report by a psychological specialist that said Henderson had struggled with mental health issues and there had been ‘attempts at self-harm’ on different occasions.

This was mentioned ‘not in any way to take away from his actions, but to give a mental health context for the defendant’.

Judge Clemitson said she would take account of this only to a ‘limited degree’ and the report also said that Henderson is a high risk to other children and that risk would be reduced if his access to children is restricted.

She said she would take into account Henderson having no previous convictions and the fact that he pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity meant his sentence had to be reduced by a third by law.

For count 14, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. And he was jailed for six years for count 15.

The sentence for the other counts of rape was 12 years in prison for each and it was four years in prison for each of the other counts of sexual assault.

He was jailed for six years for each of the two counts of making an indecent photograph of a child.

As they will all be served concurrently, his overall sentence was 14 years.

Henderson was also given a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order and a restraining order.