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Reading Crown Court: Thatcham man jailed for child sex offences

Ashley Cane had previously been behind bars for similar crimes

John Garvey

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

A THATCHAM man who was previously jailed for having sex with a child is back behind bars – for a similar offence.

In 2017, a judge imprisoned Ashley Thomas Cane for grooming and bedding a vulnerable, self-harming 14-year-old.

Reading Crown Court heard how he had promised marriage, children and undying love, but afterwards mocked her and branded her a “slut” to his friends.

On Thursday, Cane was back in the dock at Reading Crown Court where a judge heard he had also had sex with a 13-year-old on a canal towpath while passers-by cheered him  on.

The court heard that Cane, then aged 18, knew the young girl looked up to him and thought he was in love with her, while he supplied her with hard drugs and encouraged her to steal alcohol from shops.

This offending took place in 2013 and pre-dated the offences for which Cane was initially jailed.

Andrew Howarth, prosecuting, said of the latest offending: “The defendant and the victim sat down together on a canal towpath running through Thatcham.

“She described herself as finding herself on the floor with the defendant’s knee on her chest.

“He removed her tights, shorts and knickers. 

“Passers-by saw what was taking place, but they did not intervene.

“Some of them were cheering the defendant on in order to encourage him.”

After Lane had sex with the victim, the news of their sexual relationship spread, leading to her being harassed and threatened.

Only now has she supported a prosecution.

Cane, now aged 25, admitted four counts of sexual activity with a child.

The court also heard that, after being arrested and bailed, Cane tried to rob a man while armed with a knife.

Graham Smith, defending, said his client had been living in a tent next to a canal at the time and had been abused and neglected as a child.

Cane had been acquitted of charges of rape in relation to the girl, Mr Smith pointed out, after the prosecution offered no evidence.

The court also heard that Lane, who appeared by video link from prison, had previous convictions for 10 offences which included wounding and the other sexual offences recounted above.

Judge Sarah Campbell said: “There are elements of grooming... with you supplying her with drugs and lavishing attention upon her, which led her to believe that you loved her... alcohol and drugs were no doubt present... you undoubtedly used them to facilitate your sexual offending.”

Cane was jailed for six years, made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and made to sign the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period.

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