March 2021

Courage of victims sees ‘evil’ York sex beast jailed for 17 years

TWO victims have urged others who have suffered sexual abuse to speak out after the “evil” paedophile who abused them was jailed for 17 years.

The pair have lived for decades with the psychological and emotional effects of what John Anthony Whitehead, of York, did to them.

They were among four people he sexually abused when they were very young.

York Crown Court heard Whitehead is likely to die behind bars after one of his victims finally broke his silence.

“What he did was evil,” said one of the victims.

“That’s the way people like him are. They prey on you, they lie through their teeth.”

She urged any child suffering from abuse to talk to their parents, their teacher or an adult they trust.

“You don’t know how long it is going to go on,” she said.

“They (paedophiles) make you feel that no matter what you say, you won’t be believed.

“I knew it was wrong.”

Whitehead told her if she submitted to what he wanted to do, he would not abuse two other children. He lied.

She was so young when he started abusing her, she had yet to fully form the way she behaved and it has permanently affected her, she said.

She was terrified of telling her parents what Whitehead was doing to her.

But after years of suffering abuse in silence, she managed to tell them.

“The moment I told my mum, she believed me,” she said.

Now a parent herself, she said: “Children don’t make up stories about sexual abuse.”

Abused children know things about sex they shouldn’t at their age, she said.

The second victim was too frightened to speak out then and Whitehead was not charged.

But three years ago, he saw children playing near Whitehead’s home and knew he had to tell the police. “It has been preying in my head for years,” he said.

“I felt guilty that if I didn’t say anything, he might do it again.

“I’ve had a long sentence. It was awful, it has affected us so badly.”

The male victim’s actions led to Whitehead, now 79, of Kexby Avenue, off Hull Road, York, being prosecuted with abusing four children. The paedophile only admitted his guilt after one of them gave evidence at the start of his trial.

Today he is serving 17 years plus an extra year’s licence in jail for 20 offences of indecent assault and gross indecency The Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris, told York Crown Court that Whitehead had shown no remorse.

“What you did has made people traumatised and they have had to live with this for years and years and years,” he told Whitehead.

“They are going to go on living with it for years and years and years. “Mental strife can be so much more difficult and harmful than mere physical illness.”

For Whitehead, Andrew Semple said there was a “significant chance” he would die behind bars and he was not in good health.