Cheltenham man found guilty of raping child in shopping centre
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A Cheltenham man has been convicted of child sex offences against a 13-year-old boy.
Andrew Roberts, 49, and of Bath Road, Cheltenham, was yesterday (Thursday) found guilty of the rape of a child following a five-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Roberts orally raped and sexually assaulted the 13-year-old in a toilet at Regent Arcade Shopping Centre in Cheltenham on 24 November last year.
Roberts did not know the boy and there is nothing to suggest grooming or any prior or post contact. This was a stranger attack.
Detective Constable William Clark, who lead the investigation, said: “This type of random sexual assault, while rare, is a truly terrifying thing for anyone to endure and I would like to pay tribute to the young victim for the courage he has shown in coming forward and seeing this through.
“I would also like to thank the victim’s family for their ongoing support, and also pass my thanks to the security staff at the Regent Arcade who helped in securing key evidence in the early stages of the investigation.
“This is a fantastic result which reflects the hard work and commitment that our officers have put into this case.
"I want to reassure the public that we take any reports of incidents like this extremely seriously and we will do everything we can to bring the perpetrators to justice."
The trial at Bristol Crown Court was one of the first in the country to take place since the outbreak of Covid 19 and went ahead despite the need for social distancing and other special arrangements in court.
The victim was able to give his evidence via a video link from a location many miles away from Bristol.
Rachael Scott, a Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: “All of us within the Criminal Justice System have worked hard to ensure that cases where there are vulnerable victims can still take place.
“In this case there was a vulnerable young person and it was imperative for their welfare that the trial took place as soon as possible.
“The CPS will play its part to ensure future cases similar to this will be dealt with in this way wherever we can.”
Roberts will be sentenced on 24 June at Bristol Crown Court.