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Burwell man on trial for sexual assault relating to 14-year-old Newmarket girl

Members of the family of a Newmarket teenage girl have claimed she was groomed by a 34-year-old man for sex.

The parents and brother of the 14-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, gave evidence during the second day of the trial of 34-year-old Michael Savage at Ipswich Crown Court. He has denied two charges of sexual assault.

The court heard how the girl had claimed to have been in love with Savage, of Garden Court, Burwell, who she had first met in a shop while with her friends in April 2018.

Ipswich Crown Court
Ipswich Crown Court

The girl's brother told the court how during the following two months she had sometimes disappeared from home and that he, and his father had to go out and search Newmarket, where the family lived, to find her.

“She had disappeared, and after some searching, me and dad found her at a park in Newmarket and it was the first time we had seen Michael Savage in person,” he said.

“He was laying on his side on the grass and she was laying back on him with her head on his lap.

"When we called to her, she came over, and Michael Savage soon followed and began telling us his name was John Smith and that he was looking out for her.

“Dad contacted the police when we got home and they came to the house and asked my sister how she knew Savage and what was going on, but she just said they were friends.

“When the officer had gone downstairs I asked if she was sure and that’s when she told me they had been having sexual intercourse and other things and it had been going on for a few months.

“She said she loved him and it was true love. I went downstairs and told the police officer.

“My biggest concern was the age gap, but I didn’t want her to blame herself or feel like it was her fault.”

He also told the hearing how, when he had seen the defendant face to face at the park for the first time, Savage had told him: “I can get you cash or phones or whatever you want, but if you say anything there will be trouble coming down your way.”

After further incidents of disappearing from the house and being seen in Newmarket with Savage, the girl was sent to live with her mother in Gloucestershire.

In his evidence the girl's father spoke of his moment of realisation when he and her brother had found the two lying together in the park.

“I had an idea what was going on. I was shocked and angry and felt the way they were lying together was inappropriate. When we got home I explained to her it was wrong and that he was much older, but at first she just insisted that they were friends.”

He also spoke of how he had seen a photo of his daughter holding an iPhone when she was out when, to his knowledge, she only had a Nokia phone.

When he found his daughter and Savage together in Newmarket a week later he said the defendant said to him: “It’s nothing to worry about. There’s no need to call the police as they know I help girls out with money and phones.”

One of the girl’s friends also gave evidence during the day’s proceedings, telling the court how she had been with Savage and the girl on the heath in Newmarket and that they had started engaging in sexual activity before moving behind a bush to have sex.

“I thought it was wrong because of his age, but she wouldn’t listen,” she said.

The trial continues on Monday.