Babysitter ‘Al the paedo’ jailed

A PAEDOPHILE babysitter preyed on two young girls who had been entrusted into his care and then recorded himself abusing them.

Volunteer coastguard Alan Potbury sexually molested the six-year-old girls after he befriended their families and offered to look after the youngsters.

But instead of protecting the vulnerable girls he unleashed a ‘sustained’ campaign of depravity against them.

Potbury, who worked as a Clevedon coastguard during this time, filmed the abuse and took pictures on his mobile phone which he hoarded at his Pelican Close home in Weston.

These were found along with nine pairs of knickers, a pair of child’s socks, and nearly 200,000 downloaded indecent pictures and movies – some categorised as the most serious level of child pornography.

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Potbury, who admitted a total of 35 offences, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last Thursday.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Potbury had been nicknamed ‘Al the Paedo’ by work colleagues because of the inappropriate remarks he made about children and women.

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James Ward QC, prosecuting, said Potbury befriended one of the victim’s parents and then offered to babysit while they went out with pals.

As strains in the parents’ relationship started to show in 2010, he became a close friend to the victim’s mum and regularly looked after her children.

The abuse was uncovered last July when the mum saw her daughter kissing her brother ‘using tongues’, and the girl revealed Potbury had shown her.

In a statement written by the dad, he said: “I now firmly believe that Alan Potbury got close to my family so he could get close to my children.

“Sadly I believed it was my wife who he was interested in. It was not her but the children.”

Potbury similarly became friends with the other victim’s family and abused the girl while babysitting her on several occasions throughout 2007.

The court heard that he also received a police caution in 1993 for indecently assaulting a girl under 16 in her bedroom when he was meant to be looking after her.

Derek Perry, defending, said Potbury had ‘emotional difficulties’ as a child, and was devastated when he grew a breast as a teenager and was diagnosed with Klinefelter’s syndrome.

This hormone imbalance meant he was infertile and as a result he found it difficult to form relationships with women.

In 2007 his grandmother, who he was very close to, died and he developed depression.

Mr Ward said: “Perhaps it is no coincidence with hindsight at that stage with that added emotional tension upon him the inappropriate tendencies which were lurking from his problems in his youth came to the fore and that is when the sexual abuse began.”

He said Potbury ‘refuted’ claims that he became friends with the victim’s families to prey on the girls – and in fact volunteered to babysit as an ‘offer of kindness’, then took advantage of the situation.

Of the downloaded images found, Mr Ward said more than 187,000 out of 190,000 were the least serious level, and Potbury found anything more extreme than that ‘disgusting’.

Potbury at an earlier hearing pleaded guilty to seven counts of assault by penetration of a child under 13, five counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, 12 counts of taking indecent photographs or movies of a child, four counts of downloading indecent images, four counts of downloading indecent movies and one charge of downloading indecent images.

After sentencing, temporary Detective Inspector Steve Robinson, who lead the investigation, said: “North Somerset is a safer place now that Alan Potbury is behind bars.

“We are pleased with the sentence passed today on Alan Potbury however his victims will bear the emotional scars of his actions for a long time to come. I hope this gives them some closure.”

Potbury joined Clevedon coastguard in 2004, was suspended last July and resigned while on remand in August.

DI Robinson added: “There is no indication that his illegal activities were carried out whilst serving with the coastguard.”

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