Former teaching assistant jailed for sexual assaults against girls in Brighton
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A former teaching assistant who sexually assaulted four young girls has been jailed for over six years.
Stephen Payne, 69, of no fixed address, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday (31 January) having been found guilty of 13 sexual offences.
Police received four separate reports in 2020 of non-recent sexual assaults involving girls aged between eight and 12 at a property in Brighton.
The offences took place between 2001 and 2018 in Payne’s then-home in Brighton.
Three of the victims described Payne sexually assaulting them while measuring their height against a wooden beam in his home.
A fourth was sexually assaulted after Payne initiated an improvised game of ‘Twister’ in his home.
At the time of the offending, Payne worked as a teaching assistant at Dharma Primary School in Brighton, which closed in 2020.
Payne worked there from 1994 up to the day he was arrested on 18 March, 2020.
One of the victims in this investigation was linked to Payne’s career in education.
Following a thorough and complex investigation, Payne was charged with nine counts of indecent assault against a girl under 16, three counts of engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity with a girl aged 13-15 and one count of assault by touching of a girl under 13.
At Lewes Crown Court on Friday (26 January), Payne was found guilty of all charges.
On Wednesday (31 January) at the same court, he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.
He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and a restraining order, and will be on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.
Police Constable Donna Bagguley, of Brighton and Hove’s Safeguarding Investigation Unit, said: “Stephen Payne abused the trust of his young victims in the most appalling way.
“Each of them has shown extraordinary courage to report his crimes and give evidence against him. We believed them, a jury believed them and now Payne will spend a significant amount of time behind bars.
“We believe Payne may have more victims. If you or anyone you know is a victim of a sexual offence – no matter how long ago – please report to the police. We will believe you, we will support you and we will do everything we can to get you justice.”
Report online, via 101 or by calling 999 in an emergency.