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School governor who assaulted young girls jailed for 10 years
9:47am Friday 22nd March 2013 in Romsey
Robert Giddings was a chairman of school governors, a former parish council leader and a respected businessman.
Now his reputation is in tatters after a judge sentenced him to ten years in prison for indecently assaulting young girls.
The 54-year-old was handed the sentence at Southampton Crown Court after he was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault following a trial in January.
During the trial it emerged that Giddings subjected the three girls – aged between eight and 11 years old – to assaults from 1987 to 1994, and had been cautioned by police 22 years ago for trying to grab a young girl.
Giddings, who was a partner in his family firm RF Giddings sawmill in Netley Marsh, was arrested in January last year.
He was charged a month later and quit his role with Netley Marsh Parish Council when the allegations came to light.
He was also a former chairman of governors at Netley Marsh Infant School.
Giddings, dressed in a navy suit and blue tie, showed no emotion as Judge Derwin Hope handed him his sentence.
Judge Hope said: “You have now been convicted for a really serious sexual assault.
“This case quite clearly is a tragedy from all points of views.
“It has broken up the family and the girls have had to live with totally unjust humiliation of not being believed and had to relive the events through the trial.
“The psychological effects on each of them have been enormous and you still have not expressed regret or remorse to each of them for what you have done.
“I take into account what this has done to your personal, family and community life, and the fact you’ve had no further offending since 1994.
“I have read a substantial amount of references but there is no doubt at all that you have seriously harmed these three girls by your behaviour and indeed that has continued to have an effect on them today.”
He also ordered Giddings to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.
David Richards, defending, said Giddings was a “trusted friend and colleague” that had built up respect from the community.
He said: “These offences are old. That does not necessarily provide the mitigation but in the past 20 years or so since those offences Mr Giddings has contributed to the community hugely.
“This is someone who has commanded respect from the community and from different parts of the community.
“He is a trusted friend, colleague, leader of the council, and chair of governors, and throughout these 20 years he has worked selflessly for others.
“Old and young across the community speak well of Robert Giddings.”