A YATE man has been jailed for sexually abusing two girls.
Anthony John Hemmings, aged 69, targeted the girls over a five-year period, when they were aged under 16.
Hemmings, who was in his 40s and 50s at the time, had denied the offences but a jury at Bristol Crown Court found him guilty of a series of charges:
• Indecent assault on a girl under the age of 14
• Gross indecency with a girl under the age of 16
• Engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 and 15
• Two counts of assaulting a girl under the age of 13 by touching.
He was sentenced to a total of two years and nine months in prison today by Judge Peter Blair KC, who said his ill-health was taken into account in the length of the sentence.
Hemmings will have to sign the sex offenders register when he is released.
Avon and Somerset police said each girl had been abused on a number of occasions.
Neither victim knew the other, but they each contacted the police separately in their 20s to report his behaviour.
One of the woman read a ‘victim impact statement’ to the court, describing how his abuse has left her unable to trust any men.
She said: “My relationship with my own father and grandfather changed. After these things had started happening I distanced myself from them both.
“This is a huge thing for me, as I wish I could go back and rebuild that relationship with my grandfather, as he has now died and I can’t get it back.”
The woman said she had gone from being a ‘straight A student’ to dropping out of her studies, leaving her with “unfulfilled potential and longing for the opportunities that should have been within reach”.
She said seeing children being hugged by adults left her feeling distressed, saying: “There is a profound and lasting impact this childhood trauma has had on my life.
“The emotional and psychological wounds inflicted during those critical years echo throughout my existence, impairing relationships, eroding confidence and severing ties.”
Hemmings’ other victim said she had been left with anxiety and depression, and unable to go out socially.
She said: “I kept that secret with me and over the years I was finding it harder and harder to deal with. I spoke to numerous people on the Childline website…they told me I needed to report this crime, but I found it hard to come out and tell people what happened to me.
“I used to have night terrors and there were numerous times that I woke up in the middle of the night, and even throughout the day, thinking of what happened to me and knowing it wasn’t right.”
Detective Sergeant Tom Williams, who led the police case, said: “Hemmings kept his real character hidden from his family.
He acted for his own gratification without regard for anyone else, and did so repeatedly.
“I hope that the sentence handed down today will reassure the women that other children will be kept safe from Anthony Hemmings.
“I sincerely admire the strength the women have shown in coming forward.
“I also hope that the case will give confidence to anyone else who has suffered sexual abuse to know they will be listened to and offences will be thoroughly investigated.
“If you have experienced sexual abuse, no matter when, do please seek help.”
“The Bridge sexual assault referral centre offers counselling, medical care and practical help all day, every day, and it will still be your choice whether or not to contact the police.”
The Bridge can be reached by calling 0117 342 6999 at any time or visiting the website www.thebridgecanhelp.org.uk for more information.
Another website, www.thisisnotanexcuse.org, gives details of charities and organisations who can support victims.