A MAN from Kirkby Stephen is still protesting his innocence after being sent to prison for six years for the repeated sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl with whom he had become infatuated.

Norman Foster Bousfield, 57, has lost one appeal – before a single judge - against the convictions.

But, his lawyers say, he is now seeking leave to appeal to three of the country’s top Appeal Court judges to have the verdicts overturned.

Bousfield, a quarry worker, was jailed after being found guilty of three charges of sexually assaulting the girl after she went to his house in Fletcher Hill Park to see his new-born baby.

He had been convicted of those offences in May, but could not be sentenced until the result of a retrial on two further charges – of attempted rape and sexual assault – upon which the first jury had not been able to agree verdicts.

After the second jury could not decide either last week, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to ask to take the case to a third trial.

So Bousfield was sentenced, and the remaining two charges were ordered to be left lying on the court file and not be proceeded with.

In addition to the prison sentence Bousfield was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life, banned from working with children and banned from having unsupervised contact with anyone under 16.

During the trials the juries heard that Bousfield began assaulting the girl after she visited him and his partner Nicola Higgins at their home to see their baby.

“He developed an unhealthy and totally inappropriate sexual interest in her,” prosecuting counsel Nick Kennedy said.

Bousfield’s victim – who is now grown up – told the court he warned her not to tell anyone how he had been repeatedly sexually abusing her during her summer holidays because if she did her mother would be so ashamed of her she would not love her any more.

Bousfield said he had never been alone with the girl, had not phoned her to invite her over to his house, had not asked her to help him bath his baby and had not touched her in any way.

Prior to his being sentenced last week, defence barrister Greg Hoare told the judge that Bousfield would find a prison sentence hard.

“Going to prison at his age would be very difficult in any circumstances, but going to prison for offences of this type is – as he has already found while being in custody on remand – going to be a very uncomfortable experience indeed,” he said.

Passing sentence, Judge Paul Batty QC told Bousfield: “I am entirely clear that you became infatuated with this girl. You made her the object of your attentions, you flirted with her and you plied her with drink.”

The judge said that a statement the victim had sent to the court, explaining how the abuse had affected her, made “depressing reading”.

He told him: “You blighted her young life. She was transformed from being a pleasant and loving child to being a truculent and difficult teenager.”