A FORMER youth leader and councillor who lived a double life as a paedophile is behind bars for 12 years, after his sordid past caught up with him two decades on.
John Duffy, 51, groomed a besotted schoolgirl and had ‘hundreds’ of secret sex sessions with her from when she was just 12-years-old.
The sessions took place in a house, the youth club and his car. She fell pregnant twice by him, once when she was 15 which led to an abortion. Another pregnancy led to a miscarriage.
Duffy, of Skipton Road, Colne, a former pub chef, who had also worked at Stirk House at Gisburn, had recently been found guilty by a jury of 21 counts of indecent assault and one allegation of gross indecency, between 1989 and 1994.
He had originally faced eight charges of rape, 13 counts of indecent assault and the child indecency charge and had denied them all. He was cleared of the rape counts and eight of the indecent assaults he was convicted of were alternative allegations.
Judge Andrew Woolman told Duffy: “It is an aggravating feature that you were a youth leader, and to some extent, exploited that position."
The judge described the pregnancy termination as a ‘really tragic event’ in the complainant's life and said she was extremely upset about having an abortion.
He said: “She eventually told you and she says you were not bothered and were only interested in continuing the sexual relationship.
“Your conviction has been a shock to you. It's been a shock to many other people who genuinely believed that you were a good man. In many other respects you were a good man and did good works for the community and it was a cover to what was going on of a sexual nature underneath."
Burnley Crown Court heard that about 20 years ago, then married and with young children, he had started to throw himself into community life, was a local youth club leader and became well thought of.
The girl, whose life went completely off the rails because of his conduct, was left a heartbroken drunk and suicidal at his hands, a court was told.
Duffy, said to have spent all night with the girl when his then-wife was in hospital after having a baby, got the schoolgirl pregnant when she was 15. Her mother arranged for an abortion, after which the girl was distraught.
The hearing was told how the sessions came to an end after the girl later got pregnant again, had a miscarriage and Duffy seemed to lose interest in her. The teenager thought, at 16, she was getting too old for the defendant.
The defendant, who was running The Lunch Box takeaway and sandwich shop in Colne with his partner until he was remanded after the trial, was ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for life and was banned from working with children.
Duffy, a former parish councillor, had no previous convictions.
The court had been told how Duffy started his indecent behaviour towards the girl after befriending her when she was about 11.
Prosecutor Alison Mather said: “The defendant promised her the earth and abused her over a number of years.”
Miss Mather said Duffy had told the girl they would get married and had shown her holiday brochures of where he said they would go.
Miss Mather said: “She listened to him and believed him and thought he loved her. She loved him and was completely infatuated with him.”
The complainant, who is now in her thirties and from the Pendle area, went to the police in July last year.
Duffy was arrested and said her allegations were just not true. He had claimed: “She may have been 12 when she started on a sexual adventure, but it wasn't with me.”
Jeremy Lasker, defending Duffy, said: “He's well known there and was well respected.He involved himself in many local activities. All that, effectively, has now been put to an end. "