November 2018

Pervert jailed for child sex offences in Taunton

JAILED: Hedley Thorne, who is serving time for child sex offences

A man has told how his life has been ruined by a predatory children’s sports coach in Taunton.

He is a historic victim of paedophile Hedley Thorne, who was well known locally in football and cricketing circles.

Thorne, 70, who used to live in Addison Grove, was jailed for four years and eight months at Taunton Crown Court in July for seven indecent assaults and one indecent assault on the victim when he was under 16 in the 1980s.

He will be on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

“I was only a child at the time and it went on for three years. For a long time I buried it,” said his victim, who we cannot name for legal reasons.

“It’s ruined my life. I’ve lost careers, family relationships and my marriage. I had a massive drink problem. It cost me my health and I’m having counselling.”

The man, who is in his late 40s now, said Thorne started to groom him ten years before the attacks started.

“He started speaking to my mum, giving me cricket balls because he knew I was sports mad.

“My friend’s mum told me, ‘Stay away from that man’.

“I’ve only told my brother. My mum doesn’t know and my dad died knowing nothing.

“I tried to get away from Taunton and left for a while because of him. When I came back he was still around and I felt terrible when I saw him and he tried to speak to me as if nothing was wrong.”

He finally plucked up courage to report Thorne, whose most recent address was in Eastbourne, Sussex, to the police last year.

“It was the first time I’d told the whole story,” he said. “What’s happened since shows it’s never too late to come forward.

“Speaking out now will help me get closure and I want him to be exposed for what he is.

“All those times he’s been with other children, my worry is he might have done it to someone else. This could encourage them to come forward.”

The victim is angry at what he views as a light sentence as Thorne, who was single at the time of the offences but has since married, is likely to be released after completing half of his sentence. He also received a reduced term for pleading guilty at an early stage, thus avoiding a trial.

“I’m angry at his sentence. The time should fit the crime and I don’t think it’s long enough for what he did, sexually assaulting me over three years,” said the victim.

“I went to the sentencing. Part of his statement said he wanted to meet me to apologise. There’s absolutely no chance of that ever happening.”