June 2020

Victim confronts Leeds paedophile in court

A brave sex abuse victim told a court of the years of suffering she had endured after being preyed upon by a paedophile.

A judge described the woman’s courage as “remarkable” as he jailed John Firth for nine years over the sickening abuse he subjected her to when she was a child.

The 74-year-old sat in the dock at Leeds Crown Court as the woman told the sentencing hearing of the torment she had gone through in the years since the abuse.

The woman, now aged in her twenties, told Firth: “No length of prison sentence will ever be good enough.

“There is no amount of years you could spend in prison to give me justice.

“This will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

The court heard Firth targeted the victim when she was a girl and subjected her to abuse which left her in pain.

Michael Morley, prosecuting, said the girl was too afraid to tell anyone for years afterwards.

She eventually found the courage to break her silence after getting in touch with Childline.

The woman told her mother about the abuse after receiving advice and support from the counselling service.

Firth, of Blackett Street, Calverley, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 13 and one count of assaulting a child under the age of 13 by penetration.

The victim told the court of the suffering Firth had caused her.

She said: “He used his responsibility of power he had as an adult to abuse me.

“I want a new body that has not been touched by him.”

The woman told Firth that he had committed “selfish and cruel acts” upon her.

She added: “It is so unfair that I have to live with the aftermath of something that someone else has done to me. Something that I did not consent to.

“Why did you pick me out of all the people on earth? Why did you pick me?”

The victim went on to describe how she now struggles to form relationships with men because of the abuse..

She said: “I see all men when I’m out of the house as bad people. They scare me.

“I do not know what they are capable of.”

Finishing her statement, the woman said: “He makes me feel physically sick.”

The victim’s parents also read statements to the court describing the devastating impact of Firth’s offending on their family.

Firth was told he must serve a custodial term of eight years followed by an extended licence period of one year.

Sentencing Firth, Judge Simon Phillips QC said: “The impact of the very great wrongs that you have done have been devastating for her and her family.

“They will bear the consequences of your criminality for the rest of their lives.

“You corrupted her.

“She has tried to address this trauma through therapy.

“She has an abiding sense of frustration and anger that she cannot change those horrors of the past.”

The judge added: “The strength of character she has demonstrated to find courage to read out her victim personal statement is remarkable.

“Today’s sentencing is but a part of the healing process for her and her family.

“The devastation and damage that you have wrought may be addressed, but it will never disappear.”