Toward Road Pensioner avoids jail after sending “disgusting” messages to a schoolgirl

A Sunderland pensioner who sent sexual messages to a schoolgirl has been spared prison.

Keith Sawkhill, 75, a former cook on a merchant navy ship who has no previous criminal convictions, sent a series of sexual messages to the teenager over a 48-hour period.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the messages included asking if she watched pornography and saying he had plenty of it at his home. He also asked if he could kiss her and could touch her sexually and asked for a picture of her breasts. He then told her to delete the messages.

Horrified, the girl told her friend, who was “disgusted” after being shown screenshots of what she had been sent.

The matter was reported to police and Sawkhill made full admissions and said he regretted it.

The girl said in a victim impact statement: “Since this I’ve had a number of different emotions. My initial reaction was guilt, I felt it was my fault and it’s taken a while to realise I was a child and vulnerable. I now find it difficult to trust other people.”

Sawkhill, of Toward Road, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to sexual communication with a child and was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years with rehabilitation.

He must also sign the sex offenders register and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

Judge Amanda Rippon told him: “It caused her utter terror and desperate confusion as well as sadness. It’s my sincere hope she is able to come to terms with what happened and to move on with her life.

“She will not forgot what you have done, not ever. However long you have left on the planet, she has decades longer.