Scarborough child rapist John-Paul Zegstroo jailed for 20 years for 'horrific' abuse

A child rapist has been jailed for 20 years for the “horrific” sexual abuse of a young girl.
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John-Paul Zegstroo, 28, pleaded his innocence when he was arrested, despite the fact police had found images of the abuse on his phone, York Crown Court heard.

He then used “delaying tactics” to cause the postponement of his trial by pretending to be ill, putting the girl’s family through further agony.

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He finally got his comeuppance yesterday (June 14) when judge Simon Hickey said the 20-year sentence was “the least” he could impose.

John-Paul ZegstrooJohn-Paul Zegstroo
John-Paul Zegstroo

Prosecutor Mike Greenhalgh said that vile images of the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were found on Zegstroo’s phone.

Officers also found internet search terms on the phone such as ‘What happens to sex offenders in prison?’ and ‘How long will you get for (the sexual abuse of children)?’.

Zegstroo, of Overdale Gardens, Eastfield, was charged with two counts of raping the child, three counts of causing or inciting the girl to engage in sexual activity, two counts of taking indecent photos of a child, and sexual assault.

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He denied the offences, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

He faced trial earlier this year, but on the first day he appeared to fall ill and was escorted out of the courthouse and taken to York District Hospital. Medical examinations showed there was nothing wrong with him.

The trial had to be postponed to the following day, but then Zegstroo feigned illness again and took himself to Scarborough Hospital in the early hours of the morning.

Again, doctors found he was simply malingering in a “clear attempt to avoid the trial”.

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On this occasion, however, police officers were waiting for Zegstroo after he was discharged.

He was arrested again and brought to court to face trial.

After a long wait for justice, the victim’s family finally saw Zegstroo convicted of his atrocious crimes after being found guilty of all counts.

He was remanded in custody and appeared for sentence via video link.

The victim’s mother said Zegstroo’s “degrading and disgusting” acts had had a “huge” impact not just on the girl but her whole family, who were “thoroughly horrified”.

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The victim had suffered nightmares and was now “very emotional” and got upset very easily following Zegstroo’s monstrous crimes.

Jo Shepherd, for Zegstroo, said her client had never been in trouble before and was “disgusted and ashamed” about what he had done.

Judge Simon Hickey said the emotional impact on the victim had been “immense” and her “development has gone back”.

He said Zegstroo’s disgraceful “delaying tactics”, in a forlorn attempt to avoid justice, was a “mark of your character” and blasted him for “lying throughout this case”.

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In addition to the 20-year jail sentence, the judge ordered Zegstroo to serve an extra one-year period on prison licence when he is eventually released from custody.

Zegstroo was also ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for life and made subject to a sexual-harm prevention order to limit his contact with children.

This order will also be for an indefinite period.

Det Con Laura Carroll, from Scarborough CID, led the investigation from the time the complaint was first reported to North Yorkshire Police in March 2020.

She said: “The poor young victim and her family have endured unimaginable trauma caused by this depraved man.

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“I have nothing but admiration for the courageous way they have supported the investigation throughout this terrible and extremely distressing time.

"I truly hope the brave little girl and her family can now start to rebuild their lives with as much support and care around them as possible.”

The victim's family said: “Our family is so thankful for the hard work of Scarborough CID in bringing us justice and for believing in the victim.”