Published: September 24, 2010
Judge jails Highbridge teenager over sexual offences

A 19-year-old man from Highbridge has been jailed for sex offences against a teenage girl.

Benjamin Dewhirst, 19, of Burnham Road, pleaded guilty to two offences of rape, a sexual assault and two assaults causing actual bodily harm.

Judge Graham Hume Jones has given him concurrent sentences of ten years for rape, three years for the sexual assault and 12 months for causing actual bodily harm following a case at Taunton Crown Court.

William Hunter, prosecuting, said the 18-year-old victim contacted police in April to report an assault and made further allegations of rape and sexual assault.

She said he had forced her to commit a sex act and pulled her hair and punched her when she at first refused. He told her she would be dead by the end of the month if she told anyone and anyone she told would also be hurt.

She said he repeatedly asked her to do it again and she refused a number of times.

Harry Ahuja, defending, referred to character references which described Dewhirst as bright, non-violent and mild-mannered. He agreed they were serious offences and a clear breach of trust, for which he was remorseful and sorry for his actions.

A psychiatrist's report said a major identifiable factor in his behaviour was his mis-use of cannabis.

Dewhirst was also ordered to sign the Sexual Offenders' Register for life.

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