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A 45-year-old shop worker has been sentenced for child sex offences which happened in Kettering two years ago.
Shibin Vimala Santhakumar, previously of Pipers Hill Road, Kettering, worked in the Windmill Avenue shop, when he began grooming the 14-year-old girl in September 2020.
It started with Santhakumar giving her extra change when paying for items and giving her free sweets and soft drinks.
The grooming then progressed and led to him sexually abusing her, both inside the shop and at his home address.
The girl reported the offences to Northamptonshire Police in November 2020 and an investigation was launched, leading to the arrest of Santhakumar
In his first police interview, he denied the allegations completely, however, police were able to recover footage taken from the store’s CCTV hard drive which showed some of the offences.
He was later charged with nine offences – three counts of sexual activity with a child, four counts of inciting sexual activity with a child, and two counts of possession of indecent images of children.
Prior to trial, Santhakumar pleaded guilty to some of the charges however continued to maintain his innocence in regards to the offences which had taken place at his home address.
However, following a four-day trial at Northampton Crown Court in August 2022, he was found guilty of all charges by a jury.
On Friday, September 23, he was sentenced at the same court to 11 years in prison and a further two on licence.
Lead Investigator – DC Chris Waterfall from Northamptonshire Police’s Child Protection Team, said: “As an adult who had regular contact with children through his job, Shibin Santhakumar abused his position to groom this girl into sexual activity. Her support throughout our investigation has been vital and I want to commend her for the courage she has shown.
“This case shows that sexual offences against children do not often start with an immediate offence. Sandhakumar gradually built trust with this girl through offering her free items and money off her purchases. It then escalated into this abuse.
“I welcome the sentence handed out to him as it means there is one less sexual predator on our streets and one less person able to harm children. I hope this result shows the seriousness with which Northamptonshire Police takes these offences and I want to reassure the public that we will continue to work hard to bring people like Santhakumar to justice.”