Judge apology angers victim of sex abuse

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A woman told the Courier of her distress after a sex attacker escaped jail.

She was one of three females molested over several years by a 37-year-old Sowerby Bridge man.

He was sentenced after he admitted seven sexual abuse charges.

But, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall, sitting at Bradford Crown Court, decided not to jail him for three years and instead imposed a three-year community sentence which includes a sex offender treatment programme - while apologising to the victims for his decision.

The eldest of his victims, now in her 20s, said the offending had a major impact.

“Any jail term would have been better than none,” she said.

“The judge has put his needs first. We thought justice would be done but it hasn’t been.”

The woman - no names can be published to protect anonymity - said the offending started when she was eight and childhoods had been ruined.

She became aware she was not the only victim as a young adult and it was then they went to the police.

From making statements to sentencing took 18 months.

“Now, I know why people do not go to the police when those responsible can walk away with community service,” she said.

“It does not encourage victims to come forward.”

She said the youngest victim was in court for the sentencing and was “in pieces” with the result and still takes anti-depressants due to her suffering and still has nightmares.

“Day-to-day it is difficult and I don’t know what a proper childhood is like,” she said.

“But, we have done all we can and we will move on, but it has affected us and will affect us in future. The apology from the judge is not enough. That can’t bring back my childhood, those eight years of my life. It might well have been a slap in the face as it doesn’t bring any peace.”

The man, who will also have to do 300 hours community work, will be subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order which bans any unsupervised contact with under-16s. He will also be registered as a sex offender for the next five years.

Judge Durham Hall said the girls’ life must have been hell as the man took every opportunity to grab and grope them.

The judge said a three-year prison term would not be long enough to allow the defendant to take part in a meaningful sex offender treatment programme while in custody.

Judge Durham Hall said he felt others would be safer in the future if the defendant could be treated.

“What I am going to do, and I apologise to the victims but I hope they understand, is to deal with you in the most draconian way I can in the community,” he told the man who faces jail if his community order is breahed.