AN “indiscriminate” paedophile previously locked up for molesting young boys while helping to coach a Lake District football team has been handed a life prison sentence for abusing more children.
Former Army serviceman Anthony John Pickering, now 58, had originally received a five-year jail term from a judge in 2018 after being convicted of sick crimes against seven young junior players in the Windermere area during the 1970s and 1980s. However, that term was later increased to nine years at the Court of Appeal for horrific sexual assaults by Pickering which the Solicitor General said had “robbed multiple victims of their childhood”.
By that time Pickering, formerly of Claife Avenue in Windermere, was already serving a 10-year sentence behind bars for sexually assaulting a young girl in West Yorkshire, and he had also previously been convicted of indecently assaulting two boys in Germany during the 1990s while serving with the Army.
Media coverage of his 2018 trial prompted four more victims to come forward and tell how they were also subjected to historical sexual abuse by Pickering as youngsters.
Pickering denied 16 charges of indecent assault and serious sex assaults – some of which would now be classed as rapes – but was convicted unanimously following a Carlisle Crown Court trial in July. Prosecutor Michael Maher had told jurors: “We say he was indiscriminate so far as his sexual gratification was concerned. Boys or girls. It didn’t matter to him.”
One man told police Pickering abused him on multiple occasions, the first time when he was aged just six or seven. Once was in a remote rural location they visited under his pretence of teaching the youngster survival skills, and another occurred after a junior football club training session in Windermere.
Another man and two women also described the abuse they suffered.
For the prosecution today (TUES) as Pickering was sentenced, Jon Close summarised impact statements made by two victims. One woman described being without sleep and suffering nightmares having had to relive the trauma in court. “She is left with a sense of deep sadness, blaming herself for not speaking out sooner,” said Mr Close. “This will never leave her.” A male victim was left “angry and frustrated”.
Imposing a life sentence, Judge Andrew Jefferies QC told Pickering – who continues to deny wrongdoing – his offences “could best be described as a campaign of rape and sexual offending”.
“You were committing offences of a serious sexual nature against children from the 1970s through to the 2000s,” said Judge Jefferies.
“You are a dangerous man,” he added. “There are good grounds for believing you may remain a serious danger to the public for a period of time which cannot reliably be estimated today.”
Pickering will not be considered for release by a parole board until he has served at least seven years behind bars from today, and he must sign the sex offenders’ register for life.