The dark secret past of a former crown court usher caught up with him when he was jailed for sex offences.
Michael Wootton (pictured) held his head in his hands at Mold Crown Court as details of his sordid offending emerged.
He was said to be embarrassed to be back in a crown court – this time as a defendant – where he was jailed for three years and four months yesterday.
It emerged he had told his victim more than once when he worked in court that false sexual allegations ruined the lives of innocent people.
Wootton, 51, formerly from Deeside, was ordered to register as a sex offender indefinitely and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order was also made for life.
He admitted 10 offences of sexual assault, sexual activity with a child and indecent exposure. The offences occurred between 1996 and 2012 in the Flintshire area.
Between 2007 and 2013 Wootton was employed as a respected crown court usher at Chester, Warrington and Knutsford.
His barrister, David Polglase, said: “He is keen through me to say that he wants to apologise to all he has hurt.
“He accepts he should never have hurt people in the way that he has done, hurt that extends beyond the complainant.”
And he added: “He wants to apologise for letting his former employers down. He finds it embarrassing to be back before the court in this way.”
Judge Rhys Rowlands said he had offended over a 15 year period which had “a profound effect” upon the victim.
He did it for sexual gratification and believed he had “got away with it”. But he was now being held to account at the age of 51 for his behaviour in his 30s and 40s.
There had been significant delays in bringing the matter to court, said the judge.
However, that meant he had led a normal life for many years while the victim, who was very young when the offending started, had to live with what he had done.
“That reality is that she cannot escape from it,” Judge Rowlands told him.
Her victim impact statement, which he had read with care, showed the offending had an effect upon her, even now when she was older.
“She is still trying to come to terms with what happened to her.”
The judge said he took into account that the offending did not involve penetration and was over clothing but there had been appalling consequences.
Barrister Matthew Curtis, prosecuting, gave details of the various charges to the court.
He said Wootton worked as an usher at Chester Crown Court and had told the victim that false historical sexual allegations ruined the lives of innocent people.
In a victim impact statement she detailed the effect on her life, told how she suffered “night terror” where she woke up screaming and shouting, together with nightmares and flashbacks.
She had trust issues and suffered from depression and anxiety.
The court heard Wootton, now of High Street in Perth, Scotland, had a previous conviction for indecent exposure dating back to when he was a teenager.
Mr Polglase said that was very different – he had gone to urinate and was seen by some women. That had not been targeted towards one woman and it had been such a long time ago, he said.
Wootton had denied the allegations to the police and initially pleaded not guilty but he deserved credit for changing his pleas to guilty and avoiding a trial, said Mr Polglase.
He said Wootton was not in the best of health and had a problem with his feet which affected his mobility.
He added Wootton had been hoping to start his own business selling water treatment equipment.
Mr Polglase suggested that a three year community order might be appropriate so that the defendant could follow a rehabilitative programme.
But the judge said the offences were so serious that only immediate custody was appropriate.
Picture by Andrew Price.