Court told of the shocking sex abuse of a young girl by Scarborough man Matthew Scaife

A child rapist who referred to himself as “Superman” has been jailed for 20 years for the “systematic” sexual abuse of a young girl.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 10:24 am
Updated Monday, 26th October 2020, 10:28 am

Matthew Scaife, 36, subjected the victim to months of shocking abuse at two properties in Scarborough and Malton.

His “campaign” of abuse included multiple rapes and sexual assaults after grooming the youngster with treats, York Crown Court heard.

Scaife, who has convictions for serious violence and carrying knives, preyed on the youngster’s vulnerability and shyness, said prosecutor Julian Jones.

Matthew Scaife

Following his arrest, Scaife vehemently denied the offences and took the case to trial earlier this year, when a jury unanimously found him guilty of four counts of rape, two counts of sexual assault, causing a child under 13 years of age to engage in sexual activity and two counts of making indecent photos of children. The offences occurred between May and September 2016.

Following the trial in March, sentence was adjourned due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Scaife, of Crown Terrace, Scarborough, appeared via video link to learn of his fate on Friday after being remanded in Hull Prison.

Wearing grey, prison-issue jogging bottoms and sweatshirt, he defiantly maintained he was innocent of the odious crimes for which he had been convicted on the most damning evidence.

The court heard that the victim - described as a “shy, unconfident and pretty vulnerable child” - was reluctant to tell anyone about the abuse because she was so scared of Scaife, who has a previous conviction for wounding a 16-year-old with a knife.

Prosecutor Mr Jones said: “(This was) the systematic, serious sexual abuse of (the victim) in the months and weeks over the summer of 2016.”

The offences were reported to police in November 2016. Scaife was arrested but “completely” denied all allegations.

Police seized a hard drive from his flat and found 19 indecent images of children on the disc, none of which were of the victim. Scaife claimed someone else must have downloaded them.

Mr Jones said that in late September 2016 - at about the time the abuse came to an end - Scaife sent the girl threatening text messages about a video that had appeared on social media.

He had previously contacted the girl through a social-media account with the username ‘Superman Loves Someone’.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that over the course of a five-month period, Scaife had forced her to perform lewd acts on him, as well as raping her on at least eight occasions and sexually assaulting her.

She added that Scaife - who had a partner at the time - told her he wanted to “break my virginity”. She frequently broke down in tears while giving evidence at the trial.

Scaife had 16 previous convictions for 33 offences including wounding with intent in 2008 which resulted in a long prison sentence. His rap sheet also included criminal damage, burglary and carrying an offensive weapon.

Taryn Turner, mitigating, said that Scaife had behavioural problems from being a child and had a “poor start” in life.

He had had several “ill-starred” relationships and drug problems in the past, but it was conceded that the wicked offences against the young girl had been a “tragedy” for her.

Judge Simon Hickey described Scaife’s “chronic” offences as a “campaign of rape” which had caused the victim severe psychological harm.

He said that Scaife had “clearly” groomed the girl, including by sending her messages “trying to soften her up (by) saying ‘Superman loves someone’”.

The judge said it was an “extreme case” which had had an “extreme impact” on the victim, whose statement painted a “distressing, disturbing picture” of the toll that Scaife’s offending had caused.

“She was a shy girl and therefore vulnerable, and I’m certain you knew she was a vulnerable girl and that’s why you targeted and groomed her with success,” added Mr Hickey.

“She was rightly scared (of you).”

Mr Hickey said he agreed with probation officers that Scaife should be classed as a dangerous and violent offender in the eyes of the law and should therefore be given an indeterminate sentence.

Scaife was given a 20-year jail sentence and was told he would have to serve at least two-thirds of his sentence behind bars or until the Parole Board deemed him to be released. He would then serve an extended five-year period on prison licence.