Hypnotherapist, 75, jailed for sex attacks

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The Independent Online

A 75-year-old hypnotherapist was jailed for eight-and-a-half years today for committing a string of sex attacks on young girls during massage sessions.

Peter Knight was told by a judge that the offences were a breach of trust aggravated by the fact that his victims were targeted because their mothers were "vulnerable and credulous".

Knight, who claimed to be healing his victims, was convicted of 16 counts of indecent assault and three other sex offences last month following a two-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

The court heard the pensioner, of Selsey Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, committed the offences against young women and girls over a 10-year period from the late 1980s to the late 1990s after billing himself as a spiritual healer who specialised in positive thinking.

Some of his five victims were in court today to see Knight sentenced by Judge William Davis QC.

The judge told Knight: "You abused a position of trust time and time and time again.

"You had set yourself up as a hypnotherapist and general spiritual healer, pretending you had qualifications you did not have.

"You preyed on vulnerable and credulous women who happened to have young female children and who you could prey on likewise."

Judge Davis noted that the mothers of the victims had plainly been in Knight's thrall, a fact which made the offences particularly serious.

The court heard that the mother of one of the victims still believed, absurdly, that the self-styled healer was innocent.

Knight's trial was told that he forced young girls to strip during supposed treatment before attacking them.

One woman told the trial she was groped by Knight in a candle-lit treatment room aged just 11 after he told her it would help her to "move forward" with her life.

Knight, who also offered tarot card reading, was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

David Mason, offering mitigation for Knight, said his client had not treated anyone since he suffered a stroke in 2006, but was in denial about his offending.