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Jail for man convicted of child abuse – Yate

A white man with dark hair looking at the camera
Anthony Hemmings

A man has been jailed for 33 months for sexually abusing two young girls between 2003 and 2008.

Anthony John Hemmings, 69, of Yate, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Friday 22 September.

His ill-health was taken into account in the sentence and on release he will be subject to indefinite notification requirements as a registered sex offender.

His Honour Judge Peter Blair KC said the victims’ personal statements clearly explained the long lasting effects when adults commit offences against children.

Hemmings had previously denied the charges, but was convicted by a jury following a trial.

He was found guilty of:

  • 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 and
  • Two counts of assaulting a girl under the age of 13 by touching.

The court had heard that Hemmings abused each child on a number of occasions.

Now in their 20s, and without knowing each other, the women contacted the police separately to report his behaviour.

In a victim impact statement which she bravely chose to read in court herself, one of the victims described the effect the abuse has had on her life: “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.

“I just found it hard to trust male figures in my life after [the defendant] did what he did.”

She told the court that the impact of her experience on her mental health led her, despite being a straight A student, to drop out of her studies, adding: “The inability to pursue further education has left me with unfulfilled potential and longing for the opportunities that should have been within reach.”

She also explained the distress she felt when seeing children being hugged by adults, 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. I am grateful that I have been listened to, that I have been believed, and aim to heal the wounds that this traumatic experience has left behind.”

Another victim 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.”

The abuse stopped her from going out socially, and she sought medical help for anxiety and depression.

Detective Sergeant Tom Williams was the officer in the case.

He said: “I sincerely admire the strength the women have shown in coming forward. They have each spoken movingly about the impact Hemmings’ actions have had on their lives.

“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 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.”

Sergeant Williams added: “If you have experienced sexual abuse, no matter when, do please seek help. Get in touch with The Bridge sexual assault referral centre. They offer counselling, medical care and practical help all day, every day, and it will still be your choice whether or not to contact the police.”

You can speak to The Bridge on 0117 342 6999 at any time, or visit their website https://www.thebridgecanhelp.org.uk/ for more information.

You can also visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org for details of charities and organisations who are experts in supporting victims.