Nine years for pedophile who preyed on children in Todmorden

Robert Urch
Robert Urch

A man who subjected children to “gross acts of deviant wickedness” spanning a period of 36 years was jailed for nine years today.

Robert Urch, 65, from Victoria Court, Widnes, Cheshire, earlier admitted a number of offences against four children at Bradford Crown Court.

The court heard he forced an eight-year-old girl to commit sex acts on him, had sex in front of a 10-year-old boy and tried to encourage two young girls to carry out sex acts on him.

Urch, who sat in the dock breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank, pleaded guilty to 10 charges of child cruelty, indecency with a child, indecent assault and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Sentencing him today, Judge John Potter said six of the charges “reflect acts of sexual abuse of three children on a regular, at least weekly basis, during which these children were subjected to gross acts of deviant wickedness or encouragement from you to become involved in such acts for your own perverted sexual gratification”.

The court heard Urch, who lived in Cardiff at the time, made an eight-year-old girl carry out sex acts on him and touched her inappropriately, between 1973 and 1974.

Prosecutor Kitty Taylor told the court the offences happened around 30 times in his car or at his house.

The court also heard Urch used to beat a young boy with a dog chain “by the way of inappropriate chastisement”, between 1975 and 1979.

When the boy was 10 years old, Urch made him watch as he had sex with his girlfriend, telling him it was “part of his sex education”.

Between 2000 and 2001, Urch, who had moved to Todmorden, West Yorkshire, after his wife died, inappropriately touched a young girl’s breasts.

He later tried to encourage the girl, who was then 16, to commit sex acts on him over an 18 month period between 2008 and 2009, but she refused.

Urch also admitted trying to make another young girl, who was nine at the time, commit sex acts on him, between 2007 and 2008, but she also refused.

He showed her a pornographic film on his computer and masturbated in front of her.

Judge Potter said Urch had caused his victims “deep psychological scars” and said it was likely they felt regret for not speaking out sooner.

“Each of your victims should understand they are in no way to blame for the harm your wickedness caused. You are solely to blame.”

Speaking after the sentence, Detective Inspector Gail Lawrie, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The sentence Robert Urch has received today reflects the serious nature of the crimes he committed against children.

“Some of those offences were committed more than 30 years ago.

“I would like to commend all the victims involved for their brave decision to come forward and to have the confidence to report their horrific ordeals to police.”