August 2018

‘Disgust’ as man who abused 8-year-old walks free from court

A mother has described the devastating effect on her eight-year-old son, after he was sexually abused by a family friend.

Tony West, aged 18, was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault on a child under the age of 13 at Winchester Crown Court in May.

The mother of one of his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has said she is “angry and disgusted by him [West]”, adding: “The hate I feel will never go away.”

Her son had known West, now of Zeals in Wiltshire, for years, as he would play with children in the village.

“I’d always thought of him as harmless until a conversation with my neighbour left me feeling uneasy,” she said.

“She said she felt uncomfortable with him at times and Tony seemed very obsessed with the young children and would often lurk around the ends of the gardens waiting for them to come out.”

Her fears were confirmed when she asked her son if West had ever touched him inappropriately.

The boy responded that he had been touched over and under his clothing, on his “privates”, and that West had said if he told anyone he “would be sent to prison and made to eat mouldy food”.

His mother said: “[My son] has lost all trust in any of his friends, he doesn’t like to be touched even by me.

“He’s very withdrawn, and scared to go out in case he sees him [West]. “

And she said the “guilt will never go away” that she “let it happen right under my nose”.

The woman praised Wiltshire Police, and said she “can’t fault” their handling of the incident, but her main complaint was with “the justice system itself”.

West was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence with 120 hours of community service, and must register as a sex offender.

“The fact that he’s been allowed to walk free from court is disgusting,” she said.

“He deserves to be isolated and living in fear just like he’s made my son feel.

“I’m disgusted at the sentence.”

And she said West should have admitted the charges, but as he denied them her son had to be questioned in court while the family waited a year for the outcome.

“I’m devastated that he couldn’t admit to what he had done. A lot of what [my son] has gone through and will continue to go through through could have been avoided if he had just told the truth.

“[My son] didn’t cope well. His anxiety was through the roof, he picked his fingers raw until they bled and even wet and soiled the bed in the run up to court.

“He was very out of character and withdrawn both at home and at school.”

And she said her son’s “only worry through the whole trial was that Tony would get into trouble and wouldn’t be his friend anymore”.

“He thinks what Tony did was okay because he was his friend.”

She added: “Tony’s shown no remorse for what he’s done. He hasn’t faced up to what he’s done, and he needs to.”