December 2018

Darwen paedophile Joseph Swindlehurst jailed

A pervert who sexually abused five children has been jailed for seven years and three months.

Joseph Tracy Swindlehurst, who often went by the first name Tracy, was sentenced at Preston Crown Court, where Judge Beverley Lunt described the case as ‘unsettling and upsetting’.

Swindlehurst, of Melbourne Street, Darwen, pleaded guilty to numerous counts of gross indecency and indecent assault against five victims, four girls and one boy.

The offences took place across Lancashire and started when Swindlehurst was 14, though he carried on offending into adulthood.

Charles Brown, prosecuting, said: “One of the victims recalls how she was abused by the defendant, saying he would touch her inappropriately.

“A second victim stated that her abuse followed a similar pattern and she described Swindlehurst as ‘cunning’.

“A third female told how Swindlehurst took her to a secluded area where he abused her and also encouraged a friend to do the same.”

Mr Brown went on to tell the court how Swindlehurst’s male victim was abused over a period of eight years.

He added: “In a letter written by one of the female victims, she says, ‘I would like to thank you for pleading guilty and for saving me the anguish of reliving my childhood nightmares. After seeing how remorseful you are, I forgive you. Nothing can change the past. It is the future we need to look forward to.”

Judge Lunt said: “There is no question about it, from everything I have read, it is clear that you had an unhappy childhood and you were subjected to physical abuse by your alcoholic father.

“But when you turned 14 you yourself became the offender and abused the trust of each of your victims.

“I have read the statements from the victims saying how you have affected their lives – you had the power and that’s what makes the case so bad.

“I am not sentencing a youth or a man in his twenties today.

“I am sentencing a man in his sixties with health problems and I will take that into account.

“I also take into account the fact that you have not strayed into this territory again over the years.”

Judge Lunt ordered Swindlehurst to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.