A child sex offender who fled to Asia and was caught last week following an extensive 18-month North Yorkshire Police investigation has been jailed.
Damien Midgley, 39, appeared before York Crown Court less than 24 hours after detectives from the force escorted him back to the UK from Cambodia.
A judge jailed him immediately for his original six-year sentence, which he never served. He was also given a further eight months for breaching the conditions of his bail by absconding.
The former riding instructor from Aberford near Leeds was convicted of sexually assaulting four girls, all under the age of 13, by the same court in December 2014.
However, he did not attend his trial and fled to Thailand before later crossing into Cambodia. The trial continued in his absence, meaning his victims had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence to the jury.
A European Arrest Warrant was issued and North Yorkshire Police worked with the UK’s National Crime Agency to launch an investigation which led them to Cambodia.
As a result of negotiations, the Cambodian authorities carried out some of their own investigations and located Midgley in a bar in Siem Reap where he was arrested and detained.
Detectives from North Yorkshire Police flew to Cambodia at the weekend to arrange his handover with local police and escort him back to the UK, where he landed last night (Tuesday, 19 July).
Following Midgley’s sentencing, Detective Constable Vicki Hildred, who led the original investigation into the abuse, said his decision to abscond added to the trauma he had already inflicted on his victims.
Detective Constable Vicki Hildred said:
I would like to pay tribute to the four victims, who found the courage to speak out about what Damian Midgley did to them.
It is important to highlight that these young people were subjected to giving evidence at Midgley’s trial in his absence, when he chose to flee the country.
Without their bravery, he would never have been brought to justice. He abused his position as a horse riding instructor, betraying the trust of these children and their families.
This was a protracted investigation that took a number of years to bring to trial. Even then, Midgley continued to deny all his offending.
He has evaded capture for over 18 months but I hope that his sentence today offers some closure for these young people.