East Devon pensioner given suspended jail for groping teenager

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A ‘self-pitying’ pensioner has been given a suspended jail sentence for abusing a teenager.

Robert Warden touched the girl inappropriately before she pushed him away and went to alert her parents. 

The 72-year-old was described as having no remorse by the victim, who is still suffering psychological effects including flashbacks, nightmares and loss of confidence. 

The pensioner claimed any contact was accidental but was found guilty by a jury at a trial at Exeter Crown Court last month. 

He was spared an immediate jail sentence after a Judge heard how he suffered a stroke during the two and a half years it has taken for the case to by concluded. 

Warden, who lives near Honiton, was found guilty of sexual activity with a child and jailed for six months, suspended for 18 months, by Judge David Evans. 

He was put on the sex offenders’ register, banned from working with children, and ordered to do 40 days of rehabilitation activities and 140 hours of unpaid community work. 

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The judge told him: “What you did shocked and scared the victim because it was without warning and something like that can completely and utterly upend a child’s world. 

“Perhaps you thought she would put you actions down to the sad antics of a tipsy old man.” 

The judge described Warden as self-pitying and noted that he continues to deny the offence to his wife and family. 

During the trial the girl told the jury how she was confused by the sexual assault. 

In a victim impact statement, she said: “I am still struggling to cope with it. I am nervous in crowds or around strangers.” Her mother said that Warden had showed no remorse. 

Katie Churcher, defending, said Warden has been assessed as a good prospect for rehabilitation by the probation service and would benefit from their input. 

She said he has reached the age of 72 without any other convictions and suffers from problems with his sight, hearing and mobility as a result of a stroke which he suffered last year.