A vile mental health worker who sexually abused vulnerable underage girls after plying them with drink and drugs has been jailed – as two of his victims faced him in court.
Owen Smith, 50, was convicted of offences against three teenagers following a week long trial in April.
Throughout the trial, the court heard disturbing details of how the depraved father-of-ten had sex with one victim, who was just 12 years old, in front of a disabled boy he was looking after.
Smith, who worked for Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, South Yorks., raped the first complainant on a number of occasions in the mid-1990s – the first time after a party at his flat where she was given alcohol and cannabis.
His offences against the other two victims occurred in 2014 when one was 19 and the other 16.
Now he has been jailed for 19 years after two of his three victims attended court to explain the impact his offending has had on their lives.
His first victim felt unable to attend court and a personal statement was read out on her behalf by prosecutor Richard Woolfall at Sheffield Crown Court.
The statement explained she had turned to drugs and alcohol at 13 to cope with the abuse.
The statement said: “I thought if I got drunk enough, I might get the courage to speak about what had happened.
“My teenage years were stolen from me. Owen took those years from me and it is something I can never get back.”
Smith’s second victim told the court that Smith had initially seemed “kind and helpful” and she had trusted him because he was wearing his NHS staff badge.
She told the court: “I was in a bad time in my life looking for support and for somewhere to live.”
She revealed she quickly discovered Smith was “not to be trusted” and added the experience of giving evidence in court and reliving the abuse had been very difficult for her.
Smith’s third victim was first approached by the predator while he was driving in his work car and he stopped to speak to her as she walked along the road.
She told the court she had been going through a difficult time and thought he may be able to help her.
She said: “When I saw the NHS badge and he told me he worked in mental health, I thought he was a person I could trust and he could protect me.
“Having to give evidence in court made me feel dirty and ashamed of myself.
“I was surprised I had the strength to do it. I’m so glad it is all over and I thank the jury for believing me.”
Smith accepted in court having sexual contact with the two vulnerable girls – one who was addicted to legal highs and the other who lived in a children’s home – but claimed it had been consensual in both instances.
Sentencing Owen, Judge Sarah Wright praised the “remarkable courage” of the women who had come forward to testify against their abuser.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Stephen Evans, from Sheffield’s Child Sexual Exploitation team, described Owen’s sentence as “significant”.
He said: “This is a significant prison sentence for an individual who preyed on vulnerable girls and women at risk of sexual exploitation.
“His behaviour is simply despicable, and I’m pleased he is behind bars where he can cause no further harm to vulnerable members of our community.
“I wish to recognise again the courage of the victims who have been exceptionally brave throughout this process.
“I hope they are reassured by the significant sentence given to Smith for his disgraceful crimes.”
He added: “Please let this positive result act as further reassurance to victims and survivors of sexual abuse that we are determined to bring offenders of this vile crime to justice and we’d urge anyone with concerns or anyone suffering sexual exploitation to come forward.”
Judge Wright added that Owen was an “offender of particular concern” and added an extra year on licences to his 19-year jail term.
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