Blind sex offender cannot take guide dog to prison
A man who sexually abused a 10-year-old girl has been jailed for seven years.
Neil Nellies, 42, who is registered blind, assaulted his young victim, who has since tried to take her own life, and "stole her childhood", Liverpool Crown Court heard.
The crimes took place several years ago in Wilmslow, Cheshire, jurors heard.
Nellies, who arrived at court with his guide dog Digby, was told prison rules meant he would not be able to have the dog in jail with him.
Instead, the labrador will be retrained to help another blind person.
"I have the greatest concern that a man who for five years has had the benefit of a guide dog, giving him his freedom and mobility, will be taken into an environment which is wholly unfamiliar," said Nellies' barrister Rachel Shenton.
She added she did not wish to downplay the effect of Nellies' behaviour on the victim, but "prison for him will have a devastating impact".
'Stole girl's childhood'
She urged Judge Simon Berkson to suspend any jail term, arguing Nellies was already imprisoned by a degenerative eye disease.
Nellies can currently make out large shapes but this will deteriorate in time, she said.
But Judge Berkson refused due to the serious nature of the offences.
He said the victim "told her mother's friend that she was not 'her mother's little girl any more'".
"You stole that girl's childhood," he told Nellies, of Lumley Road, Macclesfield.
James Coutts, prosecuting, said the victim had suffered serious psychological harm.
Nellies, who denied any wrongdoing, was convicted of five serious sexual offences after a trial.
The court heard how Nellies had previously also suffered a stroke and had mental health issues, an emotionally unstable personality disorder and possible autism.
Judge Berkson ordered Nellies to be placed on the sex offenders register for life and imposed an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and an extra year on licence.