THE CLOSE-KNIT community of St Neot has been left in shock after a villager was jailed for 12 years for repeatedly raping and abusing a child.
David Soady, aged 44, of Tremaddock, was sentenced at Truro Crown Court on Friday after confessing to his wife that he had abused a girl when she was 12 and 13 years old.
Judge Graham Cottle said it was difficult to imagine a worse case of sexual abuse of a child.
“The consequences for her will be catastrophic,” he said.
“You used violence, slapping her and pulling her hair, and you totally disregarded her screams.”
Soady, who had no previous convictions, admitted seven charges, including rape and sexual activity with a child.
Iain Leadbetter, for the prosecution, said following Soady’s confession paramedics heard him talking “gobbledygook with all sorts of religious connotations – complete nonsense”.
Ramsay Quaife, for the defence, said Soady had been pouring water over his head, saying: “I must cleanse myself; I have sinned.”
His only mitigation was that he had confessed to the crimes, saving the girl from having to give evidence before a jury.
Soady must sign the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life, and the judge also advised the prosecution to apply for an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).
Cornwall councillor Derris Watson, whose St Cleer division covers St Neot, said: “I’m totally shocked, and almost beyond words. I don’t know how anyone can do anything like that.
“If anybody ever picks up a hint of anything like that they should either go directly to the police or phone the safeguarding unit at Cornwall Council.”
Mrs Watson said St Neot was a close-knit community where everybody knew everybody.
“People will be shocked that such a thing could go on repeatedly in their own community,” she said.
Chief investigating officer Detective Constable Rebecca Deane said the sentence reflected the severity of the offences committed by Soady.
“Long-term sexual abuse can happen anywhere and be committed by anyone,” she said. “The perpetrators of these crimes are usually clever at grooming not only their victims but those around them to minimise the chances of detection.
“The victim in this case showed amazing courage during the police investigation and the subsequent trial process.”
She said the Launceston Child Abuse Investigation Team spent months on the inquiry.
“Some of the potential evidence was years old and not, at the time, of great significance on its own, but when gathered together showed a true picture of the crimes committed by him,” she said.
“I would like to thank all the officers who assisted in this investigation and the social worker in the case who was appointed to the victim and their family.”
Police advise people to call 101 if they believe a crime has been committed, or 999 if an offence is actually in progress.
Cornwall Social Care can be reached on 0300 1234101 .