A ONCE well-thought of and respected Doncaster man who groomed a young girl before raping and molesting her has failed in a bid to challenge his lengthy jail term.
Mark Thirlwell, aged 51, of Hirstgate, Mexborough, was locked up for eight years at Doncaster Crown Court in June last year after admitting nine counts of indecent assault and six of rape.
At the appeal hearing, his lawyers argued it was ‘too long’ for his crimes but his complaints were dismissed by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court after his barrister, Alison Dorrell, accepted that she ‘could not sensibly argue’ that eight years was excessive.
Thirlwell, who worked as a roofer, began grooming the girl when she was just seven, before raping her when she was 14.
He had no previous convictions and there were a number of character references before the sentencing judge which described him as a well-thought of and respected man.
His lawyers brought a challenge to his sentence arguing it was too harsh because the crown court judge had made an error.
However, Mrs Dorrell conceded that she could not argue that eight years was too long, in light of the ‘aggravating features’ of the case.
Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: “The history of grooming and the ages of the complainant when the offences were committed are clearly aggravating factors and Mrs Dorrell accepts that it is impossible to argue sensibly that the sentence was manifestly excessive.
“In all the circumstances, there are no grounds for criticising the sentence passed. There are no grounds for reducing it to any extent and the appeal is therefore dismissed.”