Young victim of sexual assault came forward after recognizing soccer jersey

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A young sexual assault victim from Derbyshire has bravely come forward after seeing a team football shirt supported by her attacker.

Derby Crown Court has learned how the girl revealed to her mother that she had been indecently assaulted when she saw the Sheffield United shirt on television.

She recounted how she had been sexually touched by James Furniss years before. He then slapped her and told her she was mean.

The now 32-year-old offender then disappeared for more than two years before making his way to a police station to surrender.

And he also failed to show up for his first sentencing hearing last month because in the judge’s words “he knew he was going to jail for a long time.”

Judge Shaun Smith QC said: “When you were younger you did something that you had never done before and have never done since.

“As such, it is an inexplicable and isolated incident but it is an incident of real horror for the young victim.

“You pulled her panties down and sexually assaulted her. It hurt her and she told you to stop and you did.

“But not before he blamed her by telling her she was mean and slapping her.”

“I accept that your remorse is sincere because you pleaded guilty on the day of the trial.

“This means that, if you had been convicted after a trial, you could still have said ‘the jury was wrong.’ She will at least take some comfort knowing that everyone knows she was telling the truth. .

Jonathan Dee, prosecuting, said the breach took place in South Derbyshire over five years ago.

He said Furniss and the girl, who at the time was under 13, were in a house and that was when he sexually assaulted her.

Mr Dee said the case came to a head around two years later when the victim saw a Sheffield United football club jersey worn by someone on television. It reminded him of what Furniss, who supports the team, had done to him.

He said at the time that she revealed to her family what had happened and that they surrendered to the police.

Mr Dee said: “The case took a long time (to get to court) as it took the police the best part of two and a half years to find the accused.

“They searched for the details and continued to find the same address in Sheffield.

“They spoke to his mother but nothing was done until he walked into a police station in Sheffield and was arrested.”

Mr. Dee read part of a victim impact statement made by the girl’s mother.

In it, she said: “She (the victim) calls the accused a ‘monster’ and certain harmless things, like seeing someone with the same hair color or seeing someone wearing a particular football shirt, triggered it. “

Furniss, of Birklands Avenue, Handsworth, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault on a girl under 13.

He has no previous convictions.

Andrew Vout, prosecutor, said his client pleaded guilty on the day of the trial, which saved the victim from having to relive her ordeal in a public forum.

He added that Furniss recently attempted suicide.

In addition to prison, the accused will be registered for life on the sex offender register.

Derbyshire Police said they did not have a photo of Furniss in custody.


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