Store worker gave victim free items before sexually abusing her

Shibin Vimala Santhakumar, 45, was convicted of child sex offences. (Northamptonshire Police)

A store clerk who groomed a 14-year-old girl by offering her free candy and drinks before sexually abusing her has been jailed for 11 years.

Shibin Vimala Santhakumar, 45, was convicted of child sex offenses while working at the Windmill Avenue store in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

He began healing his victim in September 2020 when he gave him extra change after paying for items, along with free candy and soft drinks.

The grooming progressed and led to him sexually assaulting her inside the store and in her home.

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A view of the Northampton Crown and County Courts building

Santhakumar was found guilty on all charges by a jury following a four-day trial at Northampton Crown Court. (PENNSYLVANIA)

The girl reported the offenses to Northamptonshire Police in November that year and an investigation was opened leading to Santhakumar’s arrest.

In his first interview with police, Santhakumar denied the allegations, but police were able to retrieve footage taken from the store’s CCTV hard drive that showed some of the crimes.

He was later charged with nine offenses – three counts of sexual activity with a child, four counts of incitement to sexual activity with a child and two counts of possession of indecent images of children.

Prior to trial, Santhakumar pleaded guilty to some of the charges, but continued to maintain his innocence with respect to the offenses that took place at his home.

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He was found guilty of all charges by a jury following a four-day trial at Northampton Crown Court in August and in September he was sentenced by the same court to 11 years in prison and two more under Licence.

DC Lead Investigator Chris Waterfall, from the Northamptonshire Police Child Protection Team, said: {As an adult who had regular contact with children in the course of his work, Shibin Santhakumar abused his position to groom this girl for sexual activity.

“Her support throughout our investigation has been vital and I would like to commend her for the courage she has shown.

“This case shows that sexual offenses against children do not often begin with an immediate offence.

“Sandhakumar gradually built a relationship of trust with this girl by offering her free items and money from her purchases. This then escalated into abuse.”

Christy J. Olson