Shipman Youth Club leader, Michael Ashmore, jailed for abuse
On Friday 19 December 2014, Michael Ashmore appeared in Snaresbrook Crown Court to be sentenced for indecently assaulting a boy in the 1970s.
We are currently acting for Ashmore’s victim, who is now a 52 year old man. Our client’s parents divorced when he was five years old and, at the age of 11, he moved from his family home in Durham to London to live with his grandmother. She suggested that he joined the Shipman Youth Centre to make friends. It was here that our client met Ashmore, who befriended him and began to gain his trust by dropping him home after the youth clubs sessions.
Ashmore soon began to take advantage of his position and of our client’s vulnerability by sexually abusing him. The abuse continued over a period of approximately four years and stopped only when the head of the youth centre questioned our client about Ashmore and he disclosed the abuse.
Unfortunately, no steps were taken at the time to report Ashmore to the police and he was simply allowed to move to another youth centre.
The criminal investigation
Our client reported the abuse to the police in December 2012 and the criminal trial took place in June 2014. Ashmore faced nine charges of indecent assault and indecency with a child and he pleaded not guilty to all offences. Our client had to give evidence in court and former colleagues of Ashmore were also called to give evidence.
The jury found Ashmore guilty of two offences of indecent assault but was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining seven charges. The judge decided on a retrial and in October 2014, Ashmore pleaded guilty to a further three offences of indecent assault and one offence of indecency with a child.
During the criminal trial, former employees from Shipman Youth Centre confirmed that Ashmore was dismissed from the centre on suspicion of indecent activities with a child. It was also revealed that Ashmore had been convicted in 1996 for sexually abusing another young boy in the late 1970s, after leaving the Shipman Youth Centre, whilst working at a youth centre in West Sussex. For those offences, he was given a three year probation order and ordered to attend the sex offenders’ programme.
Ashmore’s barrister referred to his previous conviction, stating that he found the sex offenders’ programme very difficult as it “brought home how wrong his behaviour was”. He also pointed out that Ashmore had not offended since he was in his late 20s and early 30s and therefore there should be an assessment of whether he would still be considered a high risk offender.
Sentencing Ashmore to 15 months imprisonment, Judge Ian Darling told Ashmore that
“it is apparent that you ruined his life for your own self gratification”.
Judge Darling acknowledged the fact that Ashmore also suffered abuse as a young child but went on to say that this
“is an explanation of how those who have been abused may become abusers themselves but it is not mitigation”.
Finally, Judge Darling told Ashmore that he
“took advantage of a vulnerable young boy who was a misfit in London. He trusted you and you breached that trust and abused him in complete impunity”.
The police believe there may be many other victims of Ashmore who have yet to come forward.
If you think you may have a claim, contact me free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4839 or at ZahraAwaiz-Bilal@boltburdonkemp.co.uk for specialist legal advice. Alternatively, you can complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Child Abuse team will contact you. You can find out more about the team here.