A MAN who was a suspect in one of the region’s most notorious child murders is starting a five-year jail sentence after admitting sexually assaulting two children.
Stephen Hines, 60, pleaded guilty a week before a trial was due to begin at Hull Crown Court for assaulting the girls, aged eight and 10.
Hines was arrested three times following the disappearance of Christopher Laverack from the home in Hull he shared with his then wife, the nine-year-old’s half-sister. Christopher’s battered and sexually abused body was found dumped in Beverley Beck two days later on March 11, 1984.
No one has ever been charged with Christopher’s murder and the chief suspect, his uncle Melvyn Read died six years ago in prison, where he was serving a sentence for sexually abusing four young boys in 2003.
John Thackray, prosecuting, said when challenged, Hines made “strenuous” denials, suggesting the girls had lied because they had heard that he had been a suspect in the murder.
Reading from victim impact statements, Mr Thackray said one of the girls felt “scarred for life”, and guilty for not reporting the assault earlier. She hadn’t told anybody because she heard him say: If you tell anyone else I will hurt you”, although it was accepted what he did say was “I will hate you.” She had cried herself to sleep afterwards and was worried about reporting it in case no one believed her.
The court heard Hines had received threats from other inmates at Hull Prison following publicity. Paul Genney, defending, said: “Prisoners read newspapers and his position in prison is parlous. These things are talked about and he has become infamous. So he’s vulnerable and frightened.”
Judge Mark Bury stressed that he was sentencing Hines for the assaults only, adding: “There is not a shred of evidence that you committed any other offence.”
He added: “You have ill health. You had a wretched upbringing. I accept that you will be vulnerable in a custodial setting not only because of your ill health, but the two offences, and publicity surrounding the case that has linked you to it. There is no evidence you were involved in that.”
Hines has been placed on the sex offenders register and made subject of an order barring him from living anywhere where there is a child under 16.
On the night of the child’s disappearance he had gone out to buy Christopher crisps at the pub where Mrs Hines worked and returned an hour later to find him missing. In an interview six years ago, Hines said he had been asked “a million questions about a million things I know nothing about.” A police spokesman said: “Police will always welcome any information in connection with an investigation. Even if a case is solved, we will always investigate any further information which is provided.”