Suffolk man jailed 12 years for “vile abuse” of schoolboy

Robin Croft, who has been jailed for 12 years Picture: Suffolk Police

Robin Croft, who has been jailed for 12 years Picture: Suffolk Police - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk man who groomed and sexually abused a vulnerable schoolboy has been jailed for 12 years.

Robin Croft, 61, of Marigold Drive, Red Lodge, shared a number of interests with the teenager and manipulated him with alcohol.

During the trial, Ipswich Crown Court heard that Croft was "like a god" to the victim, who treated Croft "like a father figure".

The offences date back more than a decade.

The victim contacted the police in January 2017 and Croft was arrested two months later.

Giving evidence during the trial, the mother of the victim told the jury that she did raise concerns about the nature of their relationship at the time, but both Croft and her son assured her there was nothing to worry about.

The victim's mother told the jury she once approached Croft and told him: "I don't think it's right that a young child has a fascination with you."

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She told the jury that Croft replied that he didn't think it was right either, but that her son was "stubborn" and enjoyed spending time with him.

On December 13, Croft was found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court of 11 out of 13 offences which included seven offences of sexual activity of a child and six offences of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity by a majority of 11-1.

A not guilty verdict was returned on one count of sexual activity with a child and another charge of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity was left on file.

During police interviews, Croft claimed the schoolboy had made sexual advances to him which he had rejected.

Croft claimed the victim had made up the allegations to get him into trouble after they fell out.

Sentencing Croft at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Rupert Overbury said: "Having gained his complete trust, you then sexually groomed him.

"Your abuse was constant and went on over a number of years. He had no-one but you he could confide in. He would do anything you asked him.

"You robbed a young child of a normal and healthy childhood. No child should be subjected to such vile abuse."

Judge Overbury sentenced Croft to a total of 12 years for the 11 offences and he will serve half in custody.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Bev Culloden said: "These were horrific offences against a young vulnerable boy who was groomed and sexually assaulted by Croft.

"He abused his trust to carry out these multiple offences and no child should be subjected to such abuse.

"I would also like to pay tribute to the victim who had the courage to come forward and his family for their help in supporting the investigation, and hope that the court result will bring some kind of closure and allow them to move forward positively in their lives."