Gravedigger spared jail after he exposed himself to young boys in public park
A former grave digger was caught exposing himself to a group of young boys.
Paul Burnip was performing a sex act in a park when the boys saw him.
Burnip dropped a pornographic magazine he was holding and fled, Durham Crown Court heard.
He was arrested about 10 years later after one of the boys made other allegations against him for which he was acquitted.
Prosecutor Sean Dodds told Durham Crown Court Burnip was seen in a park close to his home at the time in Easington Village.
“The boys recognised him as the local gravedigger,” said Mr Dodds.
“Their accounts of the incident varied a little, they may or may not have been on bicycles, but essentially they said the same thing.”
Burnip, 53, of Snaith Terrace, Wingate, denied indecency with a child.
He was convicted of the offence after a trial.
Jane Waugh defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Burnip still denies this, he says he wasn't there.
“He was found not guilty of the two other offences he faced.
“There was no premeditation to the offence in the park.
“Mr Burnip was already doing what he was doing when the boys happened across him.
“There has been no offending before, nor since.”
Ms Waugh told the court Burnip has caring responsibilities for his wife.
“She has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair,” added Ms Waugh.
“Mr Burnip is concerned about how she will manage if he is sent to prison.
“He does have help, particularly during the day, but he has to be there for his wife at night.
“The court case has caused him to turn to drink, which is something he knows needs to be tackled.”
The Recorder, Mr Ian Atherton, sentenced Burnip to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, a curfew of three months, and 30 rehabilitation activity days.
The recorder told him: “I have no hesitation in accepting the account of the boys, and the guilty verdict.
“None of the witnesses had anything to gain by coming to court, and some came forward independently having lost touch with each other.
“But for your wife’s serious condition, the sentence would have been immediate custody.”
Burnip must register as a sex offender for seven years.