Former teaching assistant is jailed

Jailed: Michael Pena-Briggs, 25, who was arrested at his home address in The Grove, Cambridge

Michael Pena-Briggs, 25, was arrested at his home address in The Grove, Cambridge, and has been jailed for an offence committed in Uttlesford - Credit: Essex Police

A former teaching assistant has been sent to prison, and placed on the Sex Offenders' Register.

Michael Pena-Briggs, 25, was arrested at his home address in The Grove, Cambridge, in March 2019.

Following a complex investigation, he was charged in October 2019 with the sexual assault of a child under 13. The offence took place in the Uttlesford district.

The case went to Chelmsford Crown Court in May 2021 but resulted in a hung jury.

The retrial began in May. The jury reached a guilty verdict within two hours.

At Chelmsford Crown Court on June 6, Pena-Briggs was sentenced to four years in prison. He will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Pryke, said: “Offences of this kind will always be shocking and disturbing, particularly when that person is in a position of trust.

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“This will undoubtedly be difficult news for the local community but please be assured that our teams and partners have safeguarded and supported all those involved in the investigation.

“The victim and their family have shown incredible strength and courage throughout this lengthy and complex case.

“Everything we do, and all the hard work is for them, to make sure that they get the justice they deserve."

In a statement, the victim’s family said: “This has been a long journey but the police and the CPS have been unrelenting in their pursuit of justice.

“We are especially grateful to DS Pryke of Essex Police for his commitment and dedication, and to the Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse, for their ongoing support.

“We hope that by achieving this significant result, other victims and their families will have the confidence to come forward and work with the police so that more offenders can be apprehended and more children protected.”

How to report incidents

You can make a report online or call police on 101.

If you would like to remain anonymous you can make a report to independent charity Crimestoppers through their website or by calling 0800 555 111.

CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) works with victims and survivors of sexual violence and child sexual abuse, providing independent, specialist support and promoting and representing their rights and needs.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a UK-wide child protection charity focused solely on preventing child sexual abuse. The charity runs Stop it Now! – a child sexual abuse prevention campaign and helpline. Their number is 0808 1000 900.