Jail ‘inevitable’ after guilty verdicts in child abuse case

Picture by Ciaran McCrickard/Connors
Picture by Ciaran McCrickard/Connors

A man from Billingshurst has been told he will be jailed for abusing a child and for downloading child pornography from the internet.

On Friday, Jason Asthana, 32, of Coombe Close, was convicted of sexual assault by touching and of inciting a child to a sexual act. The jury found him not guilty on a further count of sexual assault.

Before the trial, he had pleaded guilty to 20 counts of downloading indecent images of children.

Judge Paul Tain, at Brighton Law Courts, remanded Asthana in custody until February 1.

“You will be sentenced with the assistance of the Probation Service, who will prepare a full and comprehensive report both to the matters that you’ve been found guilty of, and to the matters that you pleaded guilty to some time ago,” he said.

He added: “The sentence is inevitably custody.”

Judge Tain thanked the jury for the time they had spent on the week-long trial, saying that some of the evidence had been particularly upsetting.

“Members of the jury, we all understand that it’s incredibly difficult to sit on a case like this,” he said.

“It’s difficult for those of us who sit on such cases regularly, and are case-hardened.”

Asthana had a leadership role at a Scout troop, and was a parent helper at a tennis club.

During the trial, prosecutor Henrietta Paget said the victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons - described three separate incidents.

On the first occasion, he said, Asthana had asked him to take his pants down, and had then taken a photo of him.

On another occasion, Asthana put his hand down the boy’s trousers and touched him intimately for a few seconds.

Asthana was found not guilty of another alleged incident, in which he was said to have taken the boy’s pants down and then photographed him.