July 2013

Paedophile jailed after being caught out by school’s dinner lady who heard his victim talking about abuse


  • Martin Thomas lured girls into home, offering to teach them about wildlife

  • But when they were there the 63-year-old forced them into sex acts

  • He was jailed for 19 years at Exeter Crown Court

A paedophile has been jailed for 19 years after a school dinner lady overheard one of his victims talking about the abuse. 

Trawlerman Martin Lindsay Thomas lured five girls into his home by offering to teach them about wildlife in his garden pond. 

But once they were there the 63-year-old retired trawlerman then forced them to take part in sex acts with him, Exeter Crown Court heard today.

Thomas was trapped after a dinner lady overheard a six-year-old girl talking about male genitalia and suspected something was wrong.

As a result of the ‘stirling work’ of the officer in the case, Det Con Anna Stephens, four other attacks  on girls aged six to 10 over nearly a decade came to light.

His youngest victim is now 12. She gave evidence by live video link from another building and the other girls, now teenagers, gave evidence from behind a screen during the week-long trial. All were visibly upset by the trauma of giving evidence.

A police inquiry found Thomas had been preying on girls aged six to ten for almost a decade without any of his young victims summoning the courage to report what he had done.

Thomas lived in St Marys road, Brixham, South Devon and targeted girls living nearby.

Some of the victims came forward after learning of Thomas’s initial court appearance in their local paper.

He denied having touched any of the children but was found guilty after three of the girls gave almost identical accounts of being abused.

Thomas, Brixham, denied a series of sexual offences but was found guilty of the rape of three girls, and indecency offences against two others.

He was jailed for 19 years with a six year extended licence by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: ‘The level of depravity was exceptional and was your willingness to disregard the risk of detection. That adds to the dangerousness I attribute to you.

‘The victims… were allowed to go to your house because you were trusted by their parents.

‘When the opportunity arose you abused them. At the time they did not realise what was happening and they were unable to prevent you committing these offences.

‘They know now what you did and the level of distress and pain they showed when reliving their experience was very apparent for all to see.

‘Part of your excitement seems to have been derived from the fact you were running enormous risks. 

‘It was part of your pattern of depravity that you took as many risks as you could. It seems to be there is such a risk of future offending that you are a very dangerous man indeed.’

During a week long trial all five girls gave evidence by video link or behind screens and told how they were abused at his home.

A school dinner lady testified how she overheard a six-year-old girl talking with friends .

She was so alarmed by what she heard she reported it to the head.

The girl’s mother was called in and initially could not believe what had happened but then went to the police.

The victims all told similar stories of abuse and all remembered Thomas by his distinctive accent, which they thought to be Australian, even though he actually came from New Zealand.

Thomas denied all the allegations and said he had only been alone with children on very rare occasions and that his wife was home most of the time.

He said: ‘All I have ever shown to those girls is kindness’.