Reggie Perrin bid man convicted

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The Independent Online

A man who faked his own death by leaving his clothing, car keys and a suicide note on a beach was today convicted of child sex offences.

Leslie Andrews, 54, engineered the Reginald Perrin-style disappearance to evade a police investigation into his paedophile activities.

The former cafe owner wanted people to believe he had drowned in the sea at Blackpool, Lancashire, after he vanished in May 2002.

Andrews kept a low profile for eight years as he changed his name to Christopher Trent and refused to visit a doctor or dentist, or use his National Insurance number.

It is understood he moved around on a regular basis taking cash-in-hand jobs and lived at regular addresses - including caravan parks - throughout Yorkshire, Humberside and Greater Manchester.

However, he was finally traced last May in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, when he was arrested on suspicion of theft and his true identity was flagged up by his previous history of petty offending.

Two police officers knocked on the front door of his flat in St Heliers Road in the resort in 2002. They told him a young girl had made sexual allegations against him and he would have to be questioned in the near future.

Instead a few days later Andrews drove the short distance out to Lytham St Annes where he parked his red Ford Escort in Clifton Drive North near Pontin's holiday centre.

The 6ft 6in Andrews then headed across to the beach and towards the Irish Sea where he left his personal items and then disappeared - just like the TV character Perrin, played on television by Leonard Rossiter.

Today a jury at Preston Crown Court found him guilty of 14 counts of indecent assault committed on a young girl between May 1997 and May 2002. He was cleared of one further similar charge.

Andrews had denied all the offences at his trial this month.

Andrews bowed his head to the floor as the verdicts were read out.

His barrister Robin Kitching told the court his client wanted to be sentenced immediately but Judge Norman Wright was not prepared to do so.

"He asks me to apply to the court to be sentenced without a pre-sentence report being prepared by the Probation Service," said Mr Kitching.

"He would also like to address the court himself. I asked what he wanted to say but he declined to tell me."

The judge replied: "I am not going to accede to his request. As a case as grave as this there needs to be a pre-sentence report."

Sentencing was adjourned until June 28 and Andrews, who has been in custody for 12 months, was further remanded.

Giving evidence in the trial by videolink, his now grown-up victim - who cannot be named for legal reasons - told the jury: "He knows and I know he's guilty. He's not man enough to deal with his guilt just like he wasn't man enough and did a Reggie Perrin."

Andrews admitted the suicide ruse but told the court he wanted to start a new life because of his mounting debts and marital problems.

He told no one of his scheme and left his wife and family behind and cut off all contact with them.

Andrews eventually went on to meet another woman and was thought to be still in a relationship with her at the time of his arrest last year.

He said he was living in Wythenshawe, Manchester, when the authorities finally caught up with him.

He had been due to start work in the area as a restaurant manager at a pub.

Giving evidence in his defence, Andrews said he had tried to take his own life twice on one day just weeks before his beach disappearance.

Again, he parked near to Pontin's and attempted to gas himself in his vehicle and drown in the sea. He said both bids failed.

The Crown said that account was just another part of the intricate web of deception he created to avoid the child sex probe.