Stephen Payne, a 69-year-old former teaching assistant without a permanent residence, has been imprisoned for six and a half years following his conviction on 13 counts of sexual offenses. The sentencing occurred at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday, January 31.
In 2020, the police investigated four separate instances of historical sexual assaults against girls aged 8 to 12, which took place at a property in Brighton. These incidents occurred between 2001 and 2018 at Payne’s previous residence in Brighton.
Payne, who was employed at Dharma Primary School in Brighton from 1994 until his arrest on March 18, 2020, was accused of sexually assaulting three victims while pretending to measure their height and a fourth victim during a makeshift game of ‘Twister’ at his home. Notably, one of the victims was connected to Payne’s role in education. The school ceased operations in 2020.
After an extensive investigation, Payne faced charges including nine counts of indecent assault against a girl under 16, three counts of engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity with a girl aged 13-15, and one count of assault by touching a girl under 13. He was found guilty of all charges on January 26 at Lewes Crown Court.
In addition to his prison sentence, Payne received a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and a restraining order. He will be registered as a sex offender for life.
Police Constable Donna Bagguley, of Brighton and Hove’s Safeguarding Investigation Unit, said: “Stephen Payne abused the trust of his young victims in the most appalling way.
“Each of them has shown extraordinary courage to report his crimes and give evidence against him. We believed them, a jury believed them and now Payne will spend a significant amount of time behind bars.
“We believe Payne may have more victims. If you or anyone you know is a victim of a sexual offence – no matter how long ago – please report to the police. We will believe you, we will support you and we will do everything we can to get you justice.”