February 2021

‘Professional’ paedophile, 77, plied his child victims with sloe gin after picking berries with them

A “professional” paedophile who ruined the lives of his two young victims has finally been brought to justice.

Harry Leech, 77, of Green Lane, Beverley, pleaded guilty to 28 counts of sexually assaulting two children under the age of 13 over a period of 11 years.

Hull Crown Court heard that his victims were aged between six and 11 when he made them masturbate him. He also touched and licked their genitals.

Charlotte Baines, prosecuting, said that his first victim was abused more than a decade ago – and that he only stopped when the girl told him she had started her period in order to discourage him.

Leech later moved on to his second victim, who was aged just six at the start of the abuse. It stopped when she turned 11.

As his victims got older twisted Leech used to get them drunk on sloe gin, made with berries they picked together, so he could continue to abuse them, the court heard.

The sick crimes committed by Leech, described in court as been a “professional man”, were not uncovered until the victims reached adulthood and realised what had happened to them needed to be exposed.

Ms Baines said that the victims began to get drunk and self harm in their teen years and that the youngest of the two eventually told her mother what had happened in the summer of 2019.

“[The mum] noticed [the first victim] in her last year of secondary school had a change in behaviour,” said Ms Baines. [The mum] would find empty bottles of vodka in [the first victim’s] bedroom and her drinking became out of control on a weekend.

“She told her mum that she wanted to move away and when she was 16 she did in fact leave home.”

The second victim’s mother became aware that her daughter was self harming, before explaining to her the reasons behind why she was hurting herself.

The police were called and Leech was arrested and pleaded guilty to his heinous crimes.

Judge Mark Bury sentenced Leech to a total of 12 years behind bars and condemned the paedophile for the crimes that had blighted the lives of his two victims.

“For a period of 11 years you made it quite clear that you were going to treat your victims for your own sexual gratification,” said Judge Bury.

“It’s hardly surprising, Mr Leech, that your victims have suffered and continue to suffer after what you have done to them.

“The victim personal statements make it clear that this has had profound impact on them and [the first victim] describes herself as having her childhood ruined by you.

“She is ashamed about what happened and has low self esteem – but it’s not her fault, none of this is.

“[The second victim] self harmed badly and has only stopped doing so once the burden of this offending has come to an end.

“Her education was seriously impacted and she went off the rails for a while and she foresees the future as being difficult with others because of what you did to her.

“When you are serving out this sentence, you would do well to look back on the wreckage you caused here.

“Offences like this have a habit of catching up with offenders, and when that happens, the day of reckoning has to come.”