AN ageing sex offender has been spared an immediate prison sentence for offences committed at the same time as those for which he was jailed, in 2015.

Charles Maconochie, now 84, was given a four-year sentence at Durham Crown Court in April 2015 after admitting nine counts of sexual activity with a child.

The court has now heard another victim subsequently came forward to complain about Maconochie’s behaviour to her, at roughly the same time as the other offences took place.

Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, said the girl felt unable to tell her mother at the time of the offending, but finally reported it to police in 2016.

Judge Ray Singh said there appears to have been a “lamentable delay” in the case coming to court, although this was in part not helped by the defendant’s refusal to answer questions when interviewed in prison about the new offences, in 2017.

When the case finally came before the crown court, Maconochie, of Middlewood, Ushaw Moor, admitted 11 counts of sexual assault, last month.

He returned to the court, on crutches, for the sentencing hearing.

Jane Waugh, mitigating, said there has been a, “somewhat lengthy chronology” to the case and she submitted that had her client been dealt with for all the offences, in 2015, he would not have received a greatly longer sentence than the four years imposed.

Judge Ray Singh told Maconochie: “You richly deserve to go back to prison.”

But he said partly because of the delay in the case coming to court and the defendant’s age and poor health, he would suspend the sentence.

The judge imposed a 16-month sentence, suspended for two years, with a three-month overnight home curfew, from 6pm to 6am.

He will be subject to the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, for life and the restraining order, plus registration as a sex offender, both for ten years.

Judge Singh also asked Mr Cleasby for a report from the Chief Constable as to why the case has taken so long to reach court.