Matthew Carter, 45, Dereham, was jailed at Norwich Crown Court after admitting child sex offences
A 45-year-old man has been jailed for more than 11 years after his two-year-old victim became the youngest child to give evidence in a criminal case.
Matthew Carter, 45, from Dereham, was jailed at Norwich Crown Court after admitting child sex offences.
He pleaded guilty to one count of rape of a two-year-old girl and three counts of making indecent images of children.
He was convicted after his two-year-old victim became the youngest person to give evidence in a UK criminal case.
Hours after being attacked by Carter, a father-of-three, the girl told her parents.
A representative from the Ministry of Justice’s register of intermediaries, which deals with minors giving evidence in court cases, came in to aid police with talking to the girl.
The intermediary advised the police about the best way to question the two-year-old, who was initially reluctant to engage with unfamiliar adults and clung to her parents.
The expert spent an hour playing with toys to win her trust, the Sun on Sunday reported.
The expert had brought some of the girl’s favourite toys to the video interview, including a Monkey Tree, with animals falling from branches, and a range of Happy Land playthings.
All adult furniture, such as sofas and chairs, was taken out of the room. They were instead replaced by large fluffy rugs for everyone to sit down on.
Throughout the interview the expert and girl played with the toys on a rug while the officer sat alongside them and asked questions.
The questions put to her were short, simple and written down beforehand. They were designed to establish the who, where and when of the crime.
After winning her trust the little girl showed them on a paper gingerbread man where she had been abused.
When they needed to take a mouth swab from her, the girl initially was terrified of the site of a forensics officer wearing rubber gloves.
To counter this the MoJ expert made everyone wear gloves, and they spent a period pretending they were brushing their teeth, putting her at ease to give the sample.
Experts have warned sexual predators who target young children that they were wrong to think no one would give evidence against them.
The child’s video testimony, passed to Carter’s lawyers, was so compelling he confessed before a trial (file picture)
A spokesman for Intermediaries For Justice said: ‘A lot of perpetrators think they can get away with offences on small children because they are too young to explain what happened.
‘But this proves young people can give evidence that if acted upon quickly and handled correctly can lead to convictions.’
The child’s video testimony, passed to Carter’s lawyers, was so compelling he confessed before a trial.
Sentencing him on Tuesday, Judge Maureen Bacon said he had started by looking at indecent images of children for his own ‘sexual gratification’ before acting out his ‘fantasy’ and raping the girl.
She said a degree of planning had gone into his sexual assault on the child, as he had engineered the situation so he was left alone with the victim.
As well as being jailed for 11-and-a-half years, he was put on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Lori Tucker, acting for Carter, said: ‘He appreciates what he’s done and the impact that he has had.
‘He allegedly had long-standing mental health issues and had stopped taking his medication when he struck.
Speaking after his sentencing, Detective Constable Natalie Riseborough, of the Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: ‘Hearing a victim’s account of the abuse they were subjected to is always distressing and this sentence highlights that we are committed to carrying out a full and thorough investigation to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.
‘We have dedicated officers who are specially trained to undertake difficult and emotive investigations on a daily basis.
‘We would urge anyone who has been abused or sexually assaulted to come forward, safe in the knowledge that Norfolk Constabulary, together with our partners within child protection, will provide help and support, and do all we can to identify, charge and bring those responsible before the courts.’