46-year-old Simon Thornton, a former Mayor of Godalming has been arrested and jailed for his three-year sexual relationship with a girl who was under 16.
It was gathered that the suspect who was jailed for 9 years after he admitted more than 20 child sex offenses, told the police as he was arrested at his butcher’s shop in the Surrey town, “you know I’m the mayor of Godalming.”
The court heard that 46-year-old Thornton, from Bordon, Hants, had admitted 22 charges involving having sexual relations with the girl when she was between the ages of 13 and 15 years. He stood as Mayor of Godalming, in Surrey, between 2006 and 2009.
The prosecution said that initially upon being arrested Thornton told officers that the claim had only been made as the victim was trying to win a competition he was judging in his capacity as Mayor.
In a statement, the victim described how she believed she loved Thornton and how it was only after confiding in a school friend, she eventually came to realise this behaviour was wrong.
The judge at Guildford Crown Court said the illicit relationship with the girl happened on a weekly basis. The court heard how Thornton had begun grooming the girl from her 13th birthday, buying her phones, picking her up from school and inviting her to his work and home whenever possible.
Judge Robert Fraser told the defendant: “She said she felt safe and secure in your company and her statement sets out very clearly how she almost viewed you as family.
“You made a show of being a man of the community but the fact is, you exploited this girl and robbed her of her early teens, you have forever blighted her life.”
The jailed mayor will have to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely. He is also banned from working with children. Further charges of voyeurism and paying a child for sex will remain on file.