Paedophile Santa jailed for offences involving young girls

A PAEDOPHILE who dressed as Father Christmas has been jailed after offering two young girls cash to expose themselves.

Shelf-stacker Lawrence Lewis dressed up as Santa at Christmas time in Asda, in Leigh Park, and was known as Father Christmas in the area.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 57-year-old had a ‘white bushy beard, white curly hair and was well-built’ when he approached the girls in a pub between December last year and January.

Now a judge has jailed the ‘dirty old man’ for 22 months and banned Lewis from dressing as Father Christmas for 10 years.

Robert Forrest, prosecuting, said: ‘We say that given his conviction for these offences it would be necessary and proportionate to stop him acting as Father Christmas in the foreseeable future.’

The court heard how Lewis, of Springwood Avenue, Waterlooville, offered two girls, aged eight and 11, £3 and £4 to expose themselves in the Wellington pub in Waterlooville. He was not dressed as Santa at the time.

Sentencing, Recorder Shamim Qureshi, said the girls knew him as Santa, adding: ‘Father Christmas turns out to be a dirty old man.’

Mr Forrest told the court how Lewis asked the younger girl to show her backside.

The girl told her mother but Mr Forrest said she was surprised and gave the defendant the benefit of the doubt.

A second girl was also interviewed by police. Mr Forrest said: ‘She said that this male, this defendant, also asked to see her underpants and offered her £4 to expose herself.

But Lewis was only caught on a second occasion, when he targeted the younger girl alone again.

In the final incident in January, again in the pub, Lewis offered the younger girl £3 to expose herself.

She said no and ran off to her mother and told her Lewis had asked about six times.

The court heard police were called and then he was arrested.

Mr Forrest said:’He was known... as Father Christmas or Santa because of his appearance at the time.

‘He was to say in interview he did look at the time like Father Christmas, he had a white bushy beard, white curly hair and was well-built.’

In a victim personal statement the older girl’s mother said: ‘My daughter is now very suspicious of men and seems to be wary around strangers.

‘I’m now worried and careful to where she is all the time and don’t let her out to play far from the house.’

The younger girl’s mother said: ‘My daughter is now very wary of men and will come running indoors if an older man walks past while playing.’

Mr Forrest added: ‘[The mother] feels guilty for what happened.’

Lian Webster-Martin, defending for Lewis, said he felt genuine remorse and had no recollection of the crimes.

He had been drinking for four hours during one of the occasions.

She said: ‘He has shaved his beard and he wishes to step away from any suggestion that he is performing that role.’

Lewis pleaded guilty to three charges of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

The judge sentenced him to 10 months for the occasion when he targeted both girls and 12 months consecutive for the second occasion.

A sexual harm prevention order bans Lewis from speaking to any girl under 16 and from acting as Santa for 10 years.

He must sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Lewis must pay a £100 victim surcharge.

PC Mike Morgan said: ‘We thank the children for their bravery in coming forward to give evidence.’