The founding member and former bassist of Saxon, one of the UK’s most successful heavy metal bands, has been jailed for assaulting a six-year-old girl.
Stephen Dawson, 72, was sentenced to five years in prison at Sheffield Crown Court after he was convicted of four counts of indecent assault of a child under 14.

The rock band, which was formed in Barnsley, South Yorks, sold over 23 million records and its eccentric musicians later inspired the cult mockumentary ‘This is Spinal Tap’.

Dawson’s former bandmates, including Saxon co-founder and guitarist Graham Oliver, said they were left ‘shocked’, ‘sickened’, and ‘disgusted’ at his actions.

The abuse took place in the 1990s following Dawson’s dismissal from the band in 1986, with Oliver saying they hoped the victim had ‘closure’ following the ordeal.

His statement read: ‘To say we are all shocked and disgusted by Dawson’s actions is an understatement.
While these vile offences occurred post-Saxon and pre Son of a Bitch/Oliver Dawson Saxon era, we are all sickened by his predatory behaviour against a small child, and hope this prison sentence gives his victim some closure on her terrible ordeal.’

Dawson founded Saxon with Oliver in 1976 before Peter ‘Biff’ Byford joined on vocals and Paul Quinn came in on guitar.

And he helped write hits including ‘747 Strangers in the Night’ and ‘Freeway Mad’ off their 1980 platinum record, ‘Wheels of Steel’.

Dawson was also thought to be the inspiration behind the fictional character Derek Smalls, played by Harry Shearer in the film This Is Spinal Tap, released in 1984.

He remained with the group until 1986 when he was reportedly fired due to arguments with his fellow musicians.

Dawson, from Rotherham, was originally found guilty on March 21 before being given his custodial sentence this week.
Following the verdict, Detective Constable Robert Heath, from South Yorkshire Police, said his victim had demonstrated ‘extraordinary strength’.

He said: ‘Stephen Dawson thought he had got away with committing these horrific crimes against a young, vulnerable victim 30 years ago.
‘She has shown extraordinary strength through coming forward and throughout the course of the investigation, resulting in Dawson spending a number of years in prison.

‘It is clear that his evil acts have remained with her throughout her life, and I hope this sentence goes some way to allowing her to move on from these traumatic events.
‘The result of this case demonstrates just how seriously we take these offences.
‘We hope this provides some encouragement that if you have been subjected to any offence, no matter how long ago it happened, to come forward and report it to us.

‘We are here to listen, investigate and bring the perpetrators before courts.’