A child rapist from Devon has been jailed for the sexual abuse of three girls. Aaron Bennett, 33, was convicted of eleven serious sexual offences at a trial in October.
The paedophile returned to Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday (November 21) to be sentenced for his crimes. Judge Stephen Climie imposed a 28-year sentence with an extension of eight years due to the danger he poses.
The judge said the offending had a significant psychological effect on the victims. He told Bennett: “This for you is the end of a chapter in your life and the beginning of your time in custody.
“Observing the evidence of the three victims in this case was a matter which caused significant upset among jurors who had to try this case.
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“It was compelling and obviously credible evidence given by three young people despicably and seriously abused. One can only hope in some shape this sentencing can draw some sort of line to allow them to move forward in their lives.”
Bennett, of New Exeter Street, Chudleigh, was convicted of rape of a child under 13; attempted rape of a child under 13; sexual assault of a child under 13; and assaulting a child under 13 by penetration.
The court heard moving victim statements in which they described the trauma caused by Bennett. He used threats and violence to ensure their silence. He threatened to kill loved ones if they revealed what he had done.
Each of the victims suffered psychological distress trying to bottle up what had happened to them. One said she no longer feels safe around men.
Another added: “I’ve not given up on being happy. I’ve worked on my mental health. I want to move on with life and focus on the positives although I know it will not be an instant thing.”
Mr Adrian Chaplin, defending, said Bennett was a man of previous good character and there had been substantial delays in getting the case to court.
Judge Climie said he was satisfied that Bennett should be subject to an extended sentence due to the danger he poses. He will serve two thirds of the 28 years in prison before being considered for release. What remains of the full 36 years will be served on licence.
He was also made subject to an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order and the sex offender register.
Afterwards Detective Constable Donna Tullock from the Local Safeguarding Investigation Team said: “I firstly must commend the incredible bravery of the victims who had the courage to come forward and support this investigation. Without their strength in character, we wouldn’t have been able to build such a strong case.
“Bennett is now where he belongs – behind bars where he will face the consequences of these abhorrent crimes. He is a dangerous predator and a threat to children.
“Nothing will ever take away the trauma that these individuals have been through, but I hope that there can be some reassurance in knowing that this man will be locked up for a considerable amount of time.
“We truly hope that this outcome gives other victims the strength to come forward and report incidents of rape and sexual assault to us. We have support mechanisms in place to help support victims throughout the process.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of rape or sexual assault, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency.
You can also report information and crimes on the police website.
Alternatively, you can report information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
There are lots of organisations and support agencies available across Devon and Cornwall that can help provide support. For more information on rape and serious sexual assault and the support services available, please visit our support pages by clicking here.