An optician who performed a sex act while giving a vision test to a 14-year-old girl was jailed for 21 months today.
John Gill, 36, was convicted last year after a jury heard he masturbated at the Clear Vision opticians, in Knottingley, West Yorkshire, when the girl went to collect some contact lenses.
Sentencing him at Leeds Crown Court today, Judge Rodney Grant described the offence as a "considerable breach of trust" which left the girl distressed.
Gill, of Hunters Way, Selby, North Yorkshire, was found guilty of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child following a trial in November.
He was also convicted of outraging public decency after two women, who were with their children at the time, saw him masturbating while he was sitting in a chair in the window of his shop in 2007.
Sentencing him today, Judge Grant said: "(The offence) is a serious matter. It involved you masturbating in your shop in the presence of a 14-year-old girl, which caused her considerable distress."
The judge continued: "The offence of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child was, in my view, one which was serious. It was aggravated, in my view, by the fact that you betrayed the trust that (the girl) placed in you.
"She had been a patient of yours for some considerable time and she trusted you to the extent that when she received a telephone call to tell her that her contact lenses were available for collection, she ran down to your shop and it was while she was there you committed the offence for which you were found guilty.
"That, for a young child, is a considerable breach of trust. She was entitled to be protected by you and not subjected to the behaviour that you indulged in."
Judge Grant said: "I've come to the conclusion that the only proper sentence in your case is one of immediate imprisonment."
Bespectacled Gill, who stood in the dock wearing a suit and tie, showed no emotion as he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the offence of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and a consecutive three-month sentence for outraging public decency.
The trial last year heard that Gill took the girl into a back room of his store when she went to collect her contact lenses on August 7, 2008.
He told the teenager she would need a field vision test to check the lenses were correct and it was while she was having this exam that she saw Gill with his hand down his trousers.
The youngster then became aware of heavy breathing but carried on with the test. When she finished, she saw the optician red-faced and throwing a tissue in the bin.
Today, John Elvidge, mitigating on behalf of Gill, said: "It did not appear to be the case that there had been exposure to her, more that she had heard what he was doing in her presence."
Mr Elvidge said the proceedings had been a "very public humiliation" for Gill and said the impact of the case had been "truly immense".
The court heard that Gill's reputation had been "destroyed" and the impact on his business, which he had worked hard to build up successfully, had been "catastrophic".
Mr Elvidge also said the conviction had caused difficulties in the optician's marriage, although there had since been "some reconciliation" with his wife and he was able to have contact with his son.
The barrister added: "He feels sick at the prospect of custody and he would do anything to avoid his incarceration. He's the sort of man that incarceration would weigh very heavily upon."
A sexual offences prevention order was made banning Gill from contacting the girl and he was ordered to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.Reuse content