North Weald: "I've been believed" - Victim praises police after abuser jailed
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“I have been heard. People have listened. I have been believed.”
They’re the words of an “incredibly brave” woman who praised our officers after the man who sexually abused her as a child was jailed.
Richard Wardley was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday (Tuesday 14 September).
He was also given an additional year on extended licence.
The 50 year-old, of Higham View, North Weald, befriended and groomed the victim in the late 1990s and earlier 200s to the point where they were involved in a sexual relationship.
When the girl’s family became suspicious about the nature of their relationship, they ensured he did not see her again but in 2017 he tried to make contact with her, sending her a message on Facebook.
This contact prompted the victim, who had come to realise she had been groomed by Wardley, to contact the police and report what had happened.
When officers carried out a search of Wardley’s home address in Higham View, North Weald in November 2017, they found VHS tapes which included what appeared to a covert recording of the victim in a state of undress.
Officers also seized several other items of digital equipment including phones, laptops, and computer hard drives.
When they were forensically examined, around 100,000 indecent images of children were found.
He was convicted of multiple sexual offences on 30 July.
The woman, who is remaining anonymous, said:
“The crimes that were committed against me in my childhood have always been somewhere in my mind: sometimes buried deep whilst at other times they have acted as a constant torment.
“As an adult I understand the implications of being manipulated, groomed and sexually abused. I understand the impact it has had on my life and the decisions I have made.
“The police officers that worked on this case understood all this from the very start. They have listened carefully to my words without judgement.
“They have, where possible, given me control of where and how I have presented my evidence with consideration to my life as a whole.
“They have been discrete, worked tirelessly and have been a continuous support to both myself and my immediate family alongside the Citizens Advice Outreach Service and the County Witness Care teams.
“Their holistic approach has allowed me to say out loud events that I have never voiced before which although was terribly uncomfortable, was manageable with the patience and empathy shown.
“This has collectively ensured that a dangerous paedophile has been removed from society and thus helps to ensure the safety of more children and young persons.
“Although it has been a long, stressful, even exhausting process, it has finished with the best outcome possible.
“I have been heard. People have listened. I have been believed.
“Now I can move on with an even greater respect and admiration for the Police Force and the supporting teams within the Criminal Justice System."
Investigating officer Detective Constable Carol Astbury said:
“Richard Wardley is predatory individual who took advantage of a young girl for his own sexual gratification.
“The huge library of indecent images of children further emphasises the danger he poses to young people.
“The victim has been incredibly brave. It takes a huge amount of courage to report what she had been subjected to.
“She has put her life on hold while the court process was taking place so I’m delighted for her that Wardley has been held accountable for his actions.
“I hope this will help her move forward.”
If you’ve been affected by grooming or sexual abuse please report it to us by calling 101 or contacting Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.