Louth

Lincolnshire EDL activist avoids jail despite abducting schoolgirl

An English Defence League activist who “lied his head off” to police after being arrested for the abduction of a 15-year-old schoolgirl has been given a suspended jail sentence at Lincoln Crown Court.

Paul Whiteside, 47, assisted the girl after she ran away from her home in Louth taking her to stay at his mother’s home in Derbyshire.

Esther Harrison, prosecuting, said that Whiteside knew the girl through his involvement in the EDL and met her after school on a number of occasions attracting the attention of neighbours who reported the matter to the police.

Miss Harrison said: “They had met through mutual friends involved in the EDL. She had on occasions travelled with him and others to various demonstrations.

“It came to light that she had met him on several occasions after school. He was parked outside and she was seen talking to him for perhaps up to an hour at a time.

“Neighbours were concerned and took photographs and contacted the police.

“The matter was raised with the girl and her friend. She accepted it was her and said it only happened once.”

Miss Harrison said that there was an argument within the family about the matter and subsequent to that the girl ran away.

“She ran off and was reported missing. It is clear she contacted the defendant. He said he felt he could do nothing else but assist her.

“They travelled to Derbyshire that night and stayed at his mother’s property. The charge relates to the fact that when she was missing he knew where she was. She was at his mother’s house and he did not return her to Louth.”

Whiteside’s mother called police the following day and her son was subsequently arrested.

Miss Harrison said: “Nothing of a sexual nature took place. It is fair to say that there were some photographs on his phone of the girl. They show her in various states of undress and her in the bath. They were not deemed to be indecent images.

“In his interview he maintained he had no knowledge of where she had been and the last time he had seen her was a week before.”

Whiteside, 47, formerly of the Louth area but now of Skinner Street, Creswell, admitted a charge of child abduction by keeping the child away from her mother in October 2016.

He was given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for two years with a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 30 days.

He was also given an 18 month restraining order banning him from contacting the girl and a 10 year sexual harm prevention order.

Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, said: “She rang you and told you that you were in danger and at risk of violence from family members because of the perception that you were in a relationship with her. You agreed to take her out of Louth.

“You were arrested the following day. You lied your head off to the police telling them you did not know where she was.

“On your phone were photographs of the girl in the bath and in a state of undress. You have not been charged with those photographs but it is clearly a worrying feature of this case.

“It is clear to me that this crosses the custody threshold but given your character, the basis of your plea and the fact that you have effectively done a three month sentence of imprisonment I can suspend that imprisonment.”

Grace Hale, in mitigation, said there is no danger of Whiteside and the girl getting together again.

“He is now out of the area and has no intention of returning to the Louth area.”

She said he spent six weeks remanded in custody which is the equivalent of a 12 week jail term and added that he has kidney disease which involves him receiving dialysis three times a week.