Two-year-old girl is youngest person in UK to give evidence in conviction of Dereham paedophile

Matthew Carter. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary

Matthew Carter. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A paedophile from Dereham was jailed for more than ten years after his two year old victim became the youngest person to give evidence in a British criminal case.

Matthew Carter, 45, of Limassol Road, Dereham, was sent to prison at Norwich Crown Court after pleading guilty to the rape of a two-year-old girl and to making indecent images of children.

Vital evidence in the case was provided by his young victim through video testimony when a representative from the Ministry of Justice's register of intermediaries, which supports witnesses under the age of 18 to give evidence, assisted police in communicating with her.

The intermediary gained the girl's trust by spending time with her and playing with some of her favourite toys. As the pair played a police officer sat with them and asked questions.

They focused on finding out the essential details of the crime, such as the 'who', 'where' and 'when'. They then asked her to show them what had happened by asking her to point to parts of the body on a paper figure.

The expert also helped the girl to get past her fear of giving a mouth swab for forensic analysis. She was initially apprehensive when she saw an officer wearing medical gloves but when the intermediary asked for everyone in the room to be given gloves and swabs the child relaxed and gave the mouth swab without difficulty.

After the video was passed to Carter's lawyers he confessed before the trial and pleaded guilty.

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When he was sentenced Judge Maureen Bacon called his crimes 'thoroughly abhorrent'.

An NSPCC spokesman said: 'This young girl has been incredibly brave to give evidence, which can be extremely daunting even for adults.

'It's hugely positive to see that she was so well supported to tell police what really happened.

'The NSPCC has urged the Ministry of Justice to drastically increase the availability of well-trained, independent experts to ensure justice is done.

'An independent specialist who can ensure children are questioned appropriately and their evidence is understood is as important for justice as providing an interpreter for a witness who can't speak the language.'

Carter was sentenced to 11 and half years in prison and been placed on the sex offenders register for life.