August 2013

Babysitter sexually abused young boys


A paedophile babysitter who subjected two young brothers to a catalogue of “depraved” sex assaults when their parents were out has begun a 12-year prison sentence.

Thomas Curley, 73, of Cedar Road, Ribbleton pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to 14 counts of historic abuse dating back to the early nineties. Two of the charges were attempted rape, the other 12 were indecent assault.

The frail pensioner, who appeared in the dock on crutches, escaped a life term because his offences over a 12-year period – which also involved a third, unconnected, boy – were committed before sentencing rules were tightened up.

Two of the victims, now adults, were in court as Judge Pamela Badley told Curley: “The family trusted you and the way you repaid that trust was to perform acts that these days would be called rape.

“You don’t see yourself as a child sex offender. You don’t see yourself as presenting a potential risk to children. But your pattern of behaviour is such that young people have been at risk from you and will be in the future.”

Curley befriended the family and then set about abusing the eldest of the two boys on an almost daily basis when he was just six.

Most of the offences, said prosecuting barrister Jeremy Grout-Smith, happened when he was babysitting, or when he called to take the children to school. He also assaulted the boy on a fishing trip and when he accompanied him on his paper round.

When the victim reached 16 and threatened to kill Curley with a knife, he turned his attention to the boy’s younger brother, abusing him several times a week for between 18 months and two years.

“He was a trusted, close family friend,” said Mr Grout-Smith. “He won the family’s trust and gained free access to their home.”

The court heard Curley became more physical and aggressive and at times grabbed the eldest boy by the throat or tied his hands before abusing him.

The impact on the family, said Mr Grout-Smith, had been 
“devastating.” The abuse had a “catastrophic” effect on the eldest brother in particular. He felt Curley owned him and made him feel worthless and full of self-loathing. He turned to drink and drugs to cope with the abuse and eventually needed counselling.

The youngest brother felt he was “a piece of meat,” was stripped of his confidence and was disgusted with himself. He too turned to cannabis.

“The whole family has been tortured by Curley’s evil conduct towards the boys,” added Mr Grout-Smith. Defending Curley, who had previous child sex convictions dating back to 1955, Jane Dagnall told the court her client had himself been a victim of abuse as a child. “He is at risk of self-harm and has made suicide attempts in the past,” she said.

Judge Badley told him he was guilty of “depraved and disgusting behaviour towards children.”

The older brother, she said, “was only six when he had the misfortune to be put in close proximity to you. His family have gone through agonies of regret over this.

“I have considered whether a life sentence is available, but there are no complete rape offences here so I must move on from that.

“Despite you advanced age I am of the opinion that there is a significant risk to the public. This is a lengthy sentence and it is certainly one where your victims will be counting the days.”

In addition to his 12-year jail sentence Curley faces a six-year extended licence period when he is released.