Former Lowestoft newsagent jailed for another 44 months for child sex offences

A FORMER Lowestoft shopkeeper who was jailed for abusing five boys has now been sentenced to a further 44 months' imprisonment for sex assaults on a sixth child.

Anthony Francis, who owned and ran two newsagents in the town, was eligible for release from prison on the day of his latest sentencing, after being jailed for three-and-a-half years last year.

Francis, 54, of Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, appeared before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday after admitting five indecent assaults and two other counts of serious sexual offences on a boy in his early teens.

The victim went to police after Francis was sentenced in February last year.

The offences were committed in the early 1990s, before the assaults Francis was originally sentenced for.

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Speaking about the trauma Francis had inflicted on the boy in the latest case, Judge David Goodin told the defendant: 'You abused him so horribly and disgracefully, and quite plainly left permanent [mental] scars on him.

'Not a day goes by when he hasn't thought about it.'

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John Farmer, representing Francis, told Judge Goodin his client's life had been in ruins as his marriage collapsed after his first conviction.

Until then his wife had refused to believe Francis could have committed such offences.

Mr Farmer said: 'The defendant's life is really, to a very large extent, devastated.

'You are sentencing a man who is on the floor to start with. He had behind him a strong and loyal wife, but that's not a criticism on her.

'That's not a snide remark about her position. It is looking at how it impacts on the defendant.'

In addition to his latest sentence a sexual offences prevention order without time limit was made against Francis, limiting his contact with male children.

As a result of his first conviction he was already on the sex offenders' register for life.

During his first trial last year, jurors heard that Francis, who owned a shop in Maidstone Road, Lowestoft, from 1990 to 1995 before moving across town to premises in Norwich Road, had acted like a 'latter-day Pied Piper'.

Jailing him last February, Judge Goodin said Francis had sexually assaulted five teenagers aged between 13 and 16 over a 15-year period between 1992 and 2005, with a gap of eight years between some of the offences.

The judge said Francis was a hard-working family man whose reputation in the area in which he lived and worked had been high. However, he said it was plain that his reputation and high standing 'masked another truth', which was the offending for which he was to be sentenced.

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