October 2012

Pervert Victor Bignell, 74, jailed after abusing girl more than 30 years ago

A former drama coach has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for sex attacks on a child more than 30 years ago.

Pervert Victor Bignell, 74, admitted two sex offences committed in Thanet in 1972 and 1982 – which a judge branded as “repugnant offences of their sort”.

And in heartbreaking details echoing sex claims made against the late TV personality Sir Jimmy Savile, his victim – who was under 13 years at the time of the first assault – made allegations to family members but was not believed.

Judge Simon James praised the victim for her courage at Canterbury Crown Court heard, adding: “It is to her immense credit that she has matured into an intelligent, mature and compassionate woman.

“Her insight, which she has expressed in her victim impact statement, does her immense credit. It is an eloquent reminder – if one were needed – of the long-lasting and corrosive effects of child sexual abuse.”

The judge added: “The impact of this type of offending never really goes away and it is for that reason that society now considers sentences far greater than those passed in the 1970s.”

Bignell is already serving a prison sentence for downloading vile sex images of children from the internet and was due to be released in December.

The sex attacks followed Bignell using pornographic books to induce his victim to take part in sexual touching – which left her “shocked, horrified and crying”.

Jennifer Knight, prosecuting, said the girl later revealed what had happened – but was accused of lying.

But the judge told Bignell: “These offences were committed by you many years ago at a time when society perhaps didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude and long-lasting effects that it has on young victims.

“You did what you did to satisfy your sexual urges. And it is clear, both by these and previous offences that you have an unnatural sexual interest in children but that predilection is one you have chosen to deny and I find that troubling given his involvement with a drama group.”

John O’Higgins, defending, said Bignell now faces a “bleak and lonely old age and doesn’t have much to look forward to when he is released.”

December 2011

Sex shame Monmouth theatre boss jailed

THE former director of a Monmouth theatre trust was jailed for two years yesterday after Canadian police snared him sharing indecent images of children online.

Victor Bignell, 73, of Western Road, Gloucester, a former director of the Savoy Theatre Trust, helped to oversee the theatre’s refurbishment in 2004.

He appeared in Newport Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to possessing 2,226 indecent photographs of children, two counts of distributing indecent photographs, one count of possessing indecent photographs of children for show, and 14 counts of making indecent photographs of children.

He also admitted to possessing 858 extreme pornographic images.

The offences took place between April 2002 and December 2010.

Prosecutor David Webster said Bignell was caught after Canadian police found he was using a software programme to share indecent images in June last year, leading to a raid at his then home in Norton Skenfrith on October 12, 2010.

A total of 2,226 indecent photographs of children – some as young as 18 months old – were found on his computer. They included 41 categorised at level five – the worst type of image – 641 at level four, and the rest at levels one, two and three.

Mr Webster said Bignell compared his offences to speeding, saying: “If I break the speed limit at 80mph, I do not mind breaking the law, then I am a criminal.”

Defending Bignell, Jonathan Stanniland said a routine hernia operation eight years ago affected his sexual function leaving him to “look elsewhere for stimulus”.

He added Bignell had lost his marriage, job and reputation because of his prosecution.

Sentencing Bignell, Judge Eleri Rees said the “appalling trade” in indecent images thrived because it had an audience in people like him.

She ordered Bignell to stay on the sex offenders register for ten years and disqualified him from working with children.

Gary Probert, of Gwent Police’s high-tech crime unit, said: “This man in interview likened his offending to that of speeding and getting a fixed penalty ticket.

“The judge, by imposing this two-year sentence, has clearly sent a message to people offending in this nature that this is not the case.

“People who participate in this kind of trade, robbing children of their innocence, will be dealt with accordingly.”