An offender “of concern” who twice raped and committed another sexual assault on a young girl has been given a 27-month custodial sentence.

Callum Dixon committed the offences despite being several years older than his victim.

Durham Crown Court was told that the defendant, who lacks maturity and has learning difficulties, was recently diagnosed as having autism.

He was confronted and received counselling over his behaviour following the initial offence, but still went on to commit further offences, including a second rape.

The now 20-year-old defendant, of Dene View, Cassop, near Durham, appeared at the court for trial in late June, when he denied two counts each of rape and sexual assault on a child.

He was found guilty by the jury on both rape counts and one of the sexual assault charges, but he was cleared of the other, after a two-day hearing.

The Northern Echo: Defendant Callum Dixon received a 27-month custodial sentence at Durham Crown Court for rape and

Dixon returned to court for the sentencing hearing yesterday (Monday November 13), which was told of the impact the offences have had on the victim, whose general schooling and education has been badly affected, while she has also struggled with relationships with friends.

Paul Newcombe., in mitigation, described it as, “a wholly exceptional, but a very sad case”.

Mr Newcombe urged Judge Jo Kidd to take, “a wholly exceptional course” in the circumstances as the defendant, with his limitations, would find a prison sentence very difficult to endure.

But Judge Kidd said after the initial disclosure of the first incident, Dixon was given education and counselling to reduce the risk of any further sexual misconduct.

Judge Kidd said despite that Dixon went on to commit the further offences, which although he denied and accused the girl of lying, he was found guilty, “on overwhelming evidence”.

The judge told the hearing that the impact has been “disastrous” for the victim.

She said she has also read a psychological report on the defendant.

Judge Kidd told him: “I accept that you are immature, vulnerable and a naïve young man, and that you have a mild learning difficulty, poor mental health and a diagnosis as having autism.

“A sentence of detention would be particularly difficult for you.”

Judge Kidd said Dixon underwent counselling and education after the initial complaint over his behaviour, to help him to understand sexual consent and boundaries.

“You told your counsellor in 2020 you understood you should not touch inappropriately and you understood you knew what consent was and, in your mind, you know you should not do it, but your body says differently.”

Judge Kidd she found him, “an offender of concern” and therefore he must serve two-thirds of his 27-month sentence, before being eligible for release on licence.

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But when he is released he will be subject to a one-year extension to his licence period.

Dixon will also be subject of restrictions under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and registration as a sex offender, both for ten years.

His name will be entered on the barring list preventing him from ever being allowed to work with children.