Posted on Thursday 10 August 2023
A sexual predator who took advantage of a vulnerable girl is today starting a 24-year prison sentence.
Allen March, of Crook, began targeting the girl several years ago when she was only 11.
The girl had previously been groomed and was vulnerable in other ways – something March was aware of.
The abuse started when the 58-year-old sent the victim a message complimenting her on her breasts.
This then escalated over several years to sexual touching, penetration, and ultimately rape.
Despite being concerned she would not be believed, the victim showed huge courage in reporting the incidents and March was arrested in 2021.
In interview, March denied the offences, telling detectives the girl was lying.
The former taxi driver pleaded not guilty to a total of 18 charges including three of assaulting a girl under 13 by touching, five of assaulting a girl under 13 by penetration, four of inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity, four of sexual assault and four rapes.
During his trial, the victim gave in-depth evidence of all the assaults and the jury also heard how March had previously sent an image of his penis to another teenage girl and sent inappropriate and sexual messages to a further girl who was 17 at the time.
In her victim impact statement read out to the court, the victim said the abuse had had such an effect on her mental health that she had felt suicidal.
“For years I genuinely thought that nobody would believe me when I spoke up. At the time it felt awful feeling like I had to be silent. I felt really alone,” she said. “The trauma will always be with me, even now he has been found guilty I don't see how I could ever forget what has happened.”
The jury found March guilty of all the offences and at Durham Crown Court yesterday (August 9) and he was sentenced to a total of 24 years, 23 of which are custodial and a further year on extended licence. He will have to serve at least two thirds of this sentence in custody.
He will also be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and has been handed a 30-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order, prohibiting him from contacting anyone under the age of 18.
Detective Constable Helen Towns, who led the investigation, said: “The complainant in this case was always worried she would not be heard as, by her own admission, she had a history of struggling with her behaviour and mental health.
“The justice system is getting better at recognising that often it is these vulnerabilities that sadly causes offenders to think they will not be reported or held accountable, and offenders will use this to try to discredit their victims.
“Along with the victim’s detailed and compelling evidence, exploring the defendant’s behaviour rather than just focusing on hers alone has resulted in the jury being able to be sure of March’s actions.
“The strength the complainant and her family have shown throughout the investigation and trial is to be commended.”
If you have suffered sexual abuse, please come forward and report it to us – either on 101, or in an emergency by calling 999.
If you don’t want to talk to the police, you can still access help through the Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre (RSACC).
Visit www.rsacc-thecentre.org.uk or call 0300 222 5730 to speak to someone today.