Fugitive child sex abuser faked his suicide to evade justice

A child sex abuser who faked his suicide to try to evade justice has been jailed after police unravelled his web of lies.

Paul Bairstow sent suicide notes to his solicitor, family and friends saying he was planning to take his own life on the day before he was due to go on trial.

He vanished in woodland near Newton Abbot, Devon, and police issued a public appeal in which they asked for help to find him and said they were concerned about his welfare.

He has a history of inventing stories about his life and claimed to be a 37-year-old ex Royal Marine when in fact he was more than ten years older and had never been in the forces.

Paul Bairstow
Paul Bairstow

Bairstow went into hiding for three weeks but was spotted regularly after the police appeal. He was even seen enjoying a breakfast at a cafe at the very moment when his trial at Exeter Crown Court started in his absence.

His faked suicide led to his trial starting a day late, meaning that his young victim waiting around and having to go back the next day to give her evidence.

He eventually appeared in custody after being tracked down by police through his use of telephones and bank cards.

Stay in the know

Bairstow, aged 56, of Gerston Road, Paignton, was found guilty in his absence of two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13 and one of causing a child to engage in sexual activity. He admitted jumping bail.

He was jailed for six years and sex weeks and put on the sex offenders’ register for life by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: “I don’t accept for a moment that you were suicidal. You were just cowardly in avoiding the moment of truth. Your failure to attend gave rise to considerable anxiety and disruption and the deployment of police resources.

“It caused a delay in a trial with child witnesses. It went back a day and that is significant in anyone’s eyes. It caused the victim additional upset and it was another three weeks after the verdict that you were located.”

Miss Felicity Payne, prosecuting, said the abuse took place when the girl was six or seven.

CCTV of last sighting of missing Paul
CCTV of last sighting of missing Paul Bairstow

He failed to answer bail on July 27, on the first day of the first jury trial to be heard at Exeter since the Covid 19 lockdown.

Miss Payne said: ”On the day before, he hand delivered suicide notes to various individuals including his solicitor, resulting in a large police search.

“They searched a rural area where his phone was last used in the middle of the night, checks were made on his car and his bank card and a Facebook appeal was made.

“On the second day of his trial the officer in the case told the court that his phone and vehicle remained active and friends had called the police to say they had seen him and he was in good spirits.

“He was seen having breakfast at the café in a Tesco store. We say this was a deliberate failure to attend and the suicide notes were a deliberate and manipulative attempt to evade the course of justice.”

Miss Virginia Cornwall, defending, said Bairstow had intended to take his own life but not gone through with it. Police found tablets and a noose in his car when they arrested him.

He absented himself because he could not bear the thought of making the victim and other child witnesses give evidence, and not because he was seeking to avoid justice.

He himself suffered the most from his actions because they deprived him of a chance to give evidence about the offences, which he continues to deny.

Devon Live – Devon News