Sex offender taken ill after jury delivers guilty verdicts

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court
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A former Calderdale binman was taken ill after a jury found him guilty of raping and abusing young girls.

Gordon Tidswell, 63, had denied more than 20 allegations relating to sex offences committed against a total of four girls and one woman, but following more than 15 hours of deliberation the jury at Bradford Crown Court returned a series of unanimous guilty verdicts on most of the charges.

Tidswell, who now lives in Bridlington, was cleared of attempting to rape the woman in 1980 and a further allegation of attempted rape involving one of the young complainants.

But the jury convicted him on three further rape charges, two of attempted rape and 16 allegations of indecent assault relating to a total of four young girls between the early 1980s and the early part of this century.

Tidswell, who also worked for a time as an ice cream man in Calderdale, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were announced and Judge David Hatton QC stood the case down for half an hour so he could consider the appropriate jail sentence.

Tidswell, who had been remanded into custody to await his sentence, was taken down to the cell area of the crown court.

But when the judge returned he informed the defendant’s barrister Simeon Evans that there was “a little difficulty” bringing Tidswell back into court.

It was later revealed that Tidswell was unwell and steps were being taken to transfer him to hospital.

His sentence hearing has now been provisionally fixed to take place on Wednesday, May 13.

At the start of his trial prosecutor Jayne Beckett told the jury that the case involved “persistent acts of predatory sexual abuse” committed years ago.

One of the girls was allegedly raped by Tidswell while they were at a caravan on the east coast and prosecution said that he also raped a second youngster after taking her to a secluded location.

Tidswell, who was initially arrested in respect of some of the allegations in June 2013, and he told the jury last week that he was “devastated” when the police knocked on his door.

Mrs Beckett said one of the alleged victims had made her first complaint to the police in 2008, but it was not followed through at the time and the police investigation only resumed in 2013.

The woman alleged that Tidswell had first abused her when they were in a car together on the moors near Haworth.

The jury heard details about offences allegedly committed at locations in Calderdale and the woman also told police that she had been raped by Tidswell when they were at a caravan.

Mrs Beckett told the jury that a second complainant told police that Tidswell had used the pretext of checking her for “worms” to touch her between her legs.

Another complainant described how she had been sexually abused by Tidswell after they went for a walk in a wooded area of Halifax and he suggested that she might have ants in her knickers.