Schoolgirl molester fails with appeal

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A MAN put behind bars for sexually molesting a schoolgirl has failed to convince top judges he did not get a fair trial.

Peter Edmund Woodhead (51), of Main Road, Hop Pole, was jailed for eight years at Peterborough Crown Court last February after he was convicted of sexually assaulting the 11-year-old.

Woodhead was arrested after the girl told her teacher, who informed police. His case reached London’s Appeal Court on Tuesday as he challenged the “safety” of his conviction claiming prejudicial evidence may have turned the jury against him.

But Lord Justice Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Silber and Mrs Justice Sharp, dismissed claims by Woodhead’s barrister Simon Ash, that jurors should never have been told about his previous conviction under vagrancy laws.

The judge agrees that Woodhead had lived a largely “blameless life”, save for this conviction, but ruled the evidence had rightly gone before the jury.

“We’re satisfied it was fair to do so,” he said, adding that the trial judge had given the jury “very precise directions’ about how to approach Woodhead’s previous conviction.

“The evidence was admissible,” said Lord Justice Thomas, who concluded: “Having regard to all the evidence in the case we can see no grounds for doubting the safety of the conviction.”