‘Despicable’ Sheffield barrister jailed for sex assault on teenage girl, 15

Desmond Rosario
Desmond Rosario

A Sheffield criminal barrister who went on the run across the world after sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl has been jailed for four years.

Desmond Rosario has been sent to prison after a jury at Leicester Crown Court found him guilty this morning.

Rosario, aged 46, was interviewed by police about the sexual assault on the teenage girl at an address in Sheffield on November 1, 2013.

Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, said the case involved the defendant visiting the home of someone he knew and sexually assaulting that person’s 15-year-old daughter.

The incident happened in October 2013 when he was massaging the child’s back, because she had a bad back.

The child’s mother was asleep in the same room when the incident happened, at about 9pm.

After his interview under caution, Rosario failed to appear at a court date in Leicester in June 2014 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

But he was only found after he was featured on BBC One show Crimewatch in December.

He was arrested at Birmingham Airport shortly after the programme aired after having been hiding in Holland, Canada, Turkey and Cyprus.

In his defence, Rosario denied any wrongdoing, claiming the girl was half asleep during the back massage and must have dreamt that he assaulted her.

He did not accuse her of lying, but said she was mistaken.

Rosario, formerly of Fulwood, and now of Abbotts Wood, Heaton, Bradford, was a former University of Sheffield law student and helped out with teaching at the university on a casual basis but was not a member of staff.

He was a member of the city’s now defunct Paradise Chambers.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Hammond said the victim later told her mother the defendant had sexually assaulted her.

The mother rang him when he was on a trip to Amsterdam and there was a ‘veiled indication’ that he would pay her some money.

Judge Hammond said it was a ‘sad case’ which has devastated the victim and her family.

He said: “It was a gross breach of trust.

“The reason this happened was because the defendant had a drink problem. He had too much to drink on that day.”

Judge Hammond said the victim and her mother had shown ‘great courage’ and ‘dignity’ giving evidence.

He said: “It was an incredibly upsetting experience for them. The legacy of this sort of abuse can never be underestimated.

“It’s affected her exams, made her more fragile and caused all sorts of problems. She’ll never forget what happened.”

The judge made a restraining order banning him from ever contacting the victim or her family.

He said: “The courts have a duty to protect the vulnerable and that includes girls from sexual predators. The defendant is 46 and a man of previous good character.

“He was a practising criminal barrister and it gives me no satisfaction to have to pass sentence in this case.”

Judge Hammond said the attack had been described as a ‘moment of madness’ that has ruined Rosario’s professional career.

Rosario was told he will have to enlist on a sex offender register for life.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Judith Proffitt said: “This has been a long and protracted investigation and we are pleased with the result at court today.

“The victim and her family have been courageous and dignified throughout this inquiry and I applaud them for their strength of character.

“Rosario was a respected criminal law barrister who held a position of power and trust in the community.

“However, he is not above the law and his despicable behaviour has been recognised by the jury today.

“He continually denied his guilt, putting his victim through the traumatic trial process and further prolonging her anguish. I hope today’s conviction allows the victim the closure she needs to move forward from this painful chapter in her life.”

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