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TV dieting personality and radio DJ Barry Bethell has been jailed for four years for sexually assaulting a young girl after promising he would make her a star.

The 66-year-old, who became famous as the face of SlimFast in the 1990s, assaulted the victim at his home in Whitstable Kent, between 2004 and 2008.

He was found guilty of assault and three other offences of taking indecent images of a child after a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Bethell was acquitted of assaulting another girl.

He had already pleaded guilty to eight other offences, including seven of taking indecent images of children and one of possessing indecent images downloaded from the internet.

During the trial the court heard Bethell lured the girl to his home with the promise that he could help break her into showbusiness.

The prosecution told how he showered the girl with presents before asking her to pose in "erotic poses" for photographs.

During his own evidence Bethell told jurors the photographs started off as promotional pictures to send to child modelling agencies.

However, he admitted they became "voyeuristic".

The radio DJ said he was "disgusted" with himself for taking the photographs and admitted he had developed an interest in young girls while he grieved for his wife, Barbara.

She had died from cancer in September 2004.

After sentencing, Detective Constable Mark Butler, of Kent Police, said: "Barry Bethell has denied the offences and has refused to assist police throughout the case."

"The children involved showed great courage by telling an adult and also going through the experience of giving evidence to police and to the court."

 

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