A driving instructor who sexually assaulted three learner drivers while giving them lessons has today (Friday, October 11) been jailed.
Derek Booth, 49, of Coed Mor, Pen-y-ffordd near Holywell, was today sent to prison following a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.
Booth previously stood trial at Chester Crown Court and was found guilty of five counts of sexual assault against three women.
Today the court heard from some of the victim statements of the women, some of whom were described as vulnerable having suffered with mental health illnesses prior to the assaults.
Prosecutor Anna Price read from the statements.
One victim had become “wary of men” following the interactions.
The learner driver had hoped that by learning to drive it would open up her social and employment prospects – but as a result of the assault it had the opposite effect.
Booth, who was operating as a driving instructor in the Ellesmere Port area at the time of the offences, had assaulted one woman after she failed her theory test – at a point when she was particularly vulnerable.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: “You kissed her on the mouth, touched her on her arm and waist and kissed her again on the mouth at the end of the lesson.
“She was quite clearly a very vulnerable individual.”
The woman had to take a ‘significant’ time off work following the incident and had required additional counselling, the court heard.
The 49-year-old also sent ‘grossly indecent’ text messages to one of his victims, writing how he ‘wanted to be inside her’ and wanted to ‘bring her out of her shell’.
Judge Trevor-Jones said: “You were clearly seeking to exploit her vulnerability.”
In another incident Booth touched the thigh of one learner driver over clothing, and also touched her arm.
The student was so disturbed by the actions that she got in touch with the driving school and asked not to have another lesson with Booth.
Another victim wrote how during the lessons she “felt anxious and nervous”, and cited the assault as the reason for the breakdown of her marriage.
Of another victim Ms Price said: “She was suffering with anxiety before taking driving lessons.
“Since contact with the police she has been suffering from nightmares of the defendant which were recurring in the lead up to the trial.”
Representing Booth, Nicholas William described him having been a hard worker prior to the incidents.
Booth, who now works as a heavy machinery operator, had had his registration removed following the incidents and will ‘not work as an instructor again’.
Mr William said: “He has been waiting for this outcome for 20 months.
“Proceedings have had a significant impact on him.”
Mr William explained how Booth and his wife had been undergoing IVF treatments in efforts to have a child, but had to spend their savings on the legal process.
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He said: “Much of their life prior to his arrest was spent on a desire to have children.
“The reality of adoption has been removed as a result of his conviction.”
Booth was sentenced to 12 months, six of which would be served in prison and six months which would be served on licence.
He was also ordered to sign the sexual offenders register for 10 years and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge.
Sentencing Booth Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: “You would take advantage of the close confines of the vehicle.”
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