Sentence increase for St Albans theatre stalwart jailed for paedophilia

Elton Townend-Jones, formerly of St Albans, was jailed for a total of 14 years.

Elton Townend-Jones, formerly of St Albans, was jailed for a total of 14 years and must serve two thirds of his sentence before being considered for release. - Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

A St Albans playwright jailed following the rape and sexual assault of a schoolgirl will spend longer in prison following the intervention of the Solicitor General.

Elton Townend-Jones, 52, engaged in a course of sexual abuse against the victim when she was aged 10-14, which included raping her.

There were at least 25 occasions where the offender assaulted the victim by penetration whilst she was under 13.

On March 23, Townend-Jones was sentenced to a Special Custodial Sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment with a one-year extended licence at Cambridge Crown Court.  This was later increased on May 6 by Cambridge Crown Court to 17 years’ imprisonment with a one-year extended licence.

Following the sentencing, the Solicitor General Alex Chalk QC MP, referred Townend-Jones’ sentence to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.

On June 30 the Court of Appeal found his original sentence to be unduly lenient and increased it 20 years’ imprisonment with a one-year extended licence.

Speaking after the hearing Alex Chalk said: “Elton Townend-Jones engaged in a sustained and depraved course of sexual abuse against a child. I believed that his crimes warranted a stronger punishment, so I welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal to increase his sentence.”

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Townend-Jones carried out the abuse between 2015-20, with the offences only coming to light when a relative of the girl saw something suspicious and called police.

During this period he was a leading light in the St Albans theatre scene as both a producer and director.

Townend-Jones, latterly of Church Road, Wisbech, but previously of Telford Court in St Albans, was arrested in June 2020. 

In police interview he denied the offences and claimed he didn’t know why the girl would accuse him of rape or sexual assault. 

In his second interview, he answered ‘no comment’ to all questions. 

Townend-Jones stood trial at Cambridge Crown Court in February where jurors found him guilty of 11 counts including three counts of rape and multiple counts of assaults on a child under the age of 13.

Investigating officer DC Susan Brown said at the time of his original conviction: “Townend-Jones’ horrific sexual abuse of his victim went undetected for years and I am pleased he has finally been brought to justice. 

“Regardless of when it happened, we will always take reports of sexual offences, including child sex abuse, incredibly seriously. 

“Protecting young people from harm is one of our top priorities and we have specially trained officers who are there to support victims and bring offenders to justice. 

“The defendant’s abuse has had a huge impact on his victim and I hope she can now find some closure from this traumatic period of her life.”