Knaresborough man jailed for three years following historic sex offences

A 64-year-old man has been jailed for three years for the sexual abuse of a young girl during the 1970s and 80s.
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David Weatherald, from Knaresborough, waged what amounted to a campaign of sexual abuse of the girl in Harrogate when he was in his 20s.

The victim, now middle-aged, was so traumatised by the abuse she tried to take her own life, York Crown Court heard.

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Prosecutor Kitty Colley said that despite the wicked offences happening so long ago, Weatherald’s previous conviction for possessing indecent images of children in 2019 showed that he had “harboured a (sexual) interest in young children” for many years.

David Weatherald has been jailed for three years for the sexual abuse of a young girl in the 1970s and 80sDavid Weatherald has been jailed for three years for the sexual abuse of a young girl in the 1970s and 80s
David Weatherald has been jailed for three years for the sexual abuse of a young girl in the 1970s and 80s

The victim of the sexual abuse, which occurred about 40 years ago, did not make disclosures to police until September 2019 after an article appeared in the Harrogate Advertiser about Weatherald’s conviction for possessing indecent images.

Ms Colley said: “She herself contacted police and reported (that) she had been sexually abused by him as a child.

“She said that having read about him in the paper, she (decided to) come forward.”

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The victim, who was just six years’ old when the abuse began in the 1970s, had been sexually assaulted on “many” occasions.

Weatherald, who was 19 or 20 years’ old when it began, vehemently denied the allegations following his arrest and told police they were “all lies”.

He was initially charged with seven counts of sexual offences but denied them and the case was listed for trial in December last year, but Weatherald ultimately admitted five of those charges, including four counts of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child under 14 years of age.

He appeared for sentence on Thursday.

The court heard that the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had endured a torrid childhood.

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The abuse had exacerbated her mental-health problems, culminating in a breakdown and eating disorders in adulthood.

Ms Colley said: “She said she felt ashamed about what (Weatherald) did to her."

The victim said the abuse had affected her “very deeply” all her adult life.

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She said that at the time of the abuse she had “minimal” understanding of what was happening to her and she was now “reliving the trauma through this case”, which had caused her “deep anxiety and depression”.

She said the abuse made her “feel like I was not worth anything” and resulted in a suicide attempt.

“The experiences I have gone through left me physically and mentally shattered,” she added.

She was now on medication for depression and anxiety and had sleeping problems due to “the trauma this has had on me”.

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“My life was stolen from me when I was six years of age and there is nothing that will get those years back” she said.

Ms Colley said that Weatherald’s previous conviction for possessing indecent images included 11 videos rated Category A – the worst kind – featuring “very young children, some aged seven”.

The images included penetrative sexual activity with children.

Weatherald, of Fossdale Close, was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence and made subject to a 10-year sexual-harm prevention order for those offences in 2019.

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Nick Cartmell, mitigating, said Weatherald was deeply remorseful and at the time of the sexual abuse he too was an “isolated, immature” young man who had his own difficulties.

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, told Weatherald: “This offending came to light as a result of you possessing, or looking at, the most dreadful illegal images of children.

“It’s quite clear that this offending shows that your interest in children harks back some considerable time.”

Weatherald will serve half of the three-year sentence behind bars before being released on prison licence.

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Mr Morris added a further prohibition to Weatherald’s sexual-harm prevention order which bans him having any advertent contact with children under 16 years of age.