March 2018

Convicted Burnham-on-Sea paedophile breaks down in tears during sentencing for abuse

Drama unfolded at Taunton Crown Court after a paedophile broke down in tears and was removed from the dock before he was sentenced to more than seven years in jail for sexual abuse.

Peter Sheppard, 75, of Love Lane, Burnham-on-Sea, had denied four charges of indecent assault on one girl and one of gross indecent assault against another child.

He also denied a charge of indecency involving another child under the age of 10.

Prosecuting, Chris Smyth read statements from victims which detailed how much of an impact the abuse had on them. 

In a statement read in court by Mr Smyth, one of the victims said she had been suffering with depression and struggles to leave the house alone.

 “I don’t trust men because of what he did to me,” the victim said. 

“This means I don’t let anyone in and I have a big wall up. It is hard to open up to friends. 

“I have been diagnosed with depression and have been taking medication since then. I hate having to take medication.

“I have nightmares about the abuse. I don’t like going out on my own, I hate the fact he has left me feeling vulnerable.

“Now I am a mum myself I feel I have to protect my children.”

Another victim said they tried to forget about Sheppard’s abuse and moved away but said they found it difficult when the investigation into the abuse started in 2015.

“I struggled to speak to the police, I struggled with everyday life,” the victim said.

Defending Sheppard, Patrick Mason said he had had a ‘long and fruitful’ working life before the allegations came to light and said since Sheppard has been remanded in custody, his mental health has declined.

The court heard Sheppard was the main carer for his wife who suffered from a number of health problems and is partially blind.

“One will have to confront the realistic possibility that she will never see him again out of prison,” Mr Mason said.

After Mr Mason’s summary, there were dramatic scenes in the dock as Sheppard started began to shake and broke down in tears and said: “Please get me out of here – I want to die.”

Judge Paul Cook stopped the sentencing and Sheppard was removed from the dock by security guards and taken back into custody.

Judge Cook sentenced Sheppard to seven years and two months in jail.

He said: “I have heard the impact statements from both victims which show the impact on both victims has been profound.”