Serial child abuser from Hailsham gave young boys 'expensive gifts' to buy their silence

Gerald Highgate has been sentenced to ten years in prison. Credit: Surrey Police

Victims of a serial child abuser from East Sussex have been praised for their courage after the man who ‘took away their childhoods’ was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Gerald Highgate, 83, from Hailsham, was found guilty of 30 counts relating to non-recent child sexual abuse at Guildford Crown Court after preying on young boys throughout his adult life.

Highgate used his position of trust at sports and social clubs in Surrey from as far back as the 1960s to gain access to young boys and get them alone with him.

Sometimes he would offer them lifts in his car and assault them in his vehicle. He often gave them gifts such as expensive trainers, cigarettes, or money which they said felt was a way of 'buying their silence.'

One of his victims said Highgate had taken his childhood away from him and it had affected his life to such a degree he had later changed his name to disassociate himself from his previous identity.

In an impact statement given in court, another of Highgate’s victims spoke of the horror of living with what had happened. He said: “I have not been able to tell anyone or speak about what you did to me. It was the secret I could never tell.

"When the police came to see me, I knew what it was going to be about before they even said anything.

“At last, I have had the opportunity to speak out and tell what was done to me when I was a small boy. I can now move on with my life in the knowledge that you have been found out for what you are – a predatory paedophile.”

DS McLachlan said: “Reading the impact statements from Highgate’s victims was incredibly moving. If you were abused as a child, talking about something you may have buried away for many years - something you have potentially never told anyone, might feel impossible.

"I hope this case shows anyone out there who has been a victim of this type of crime that you can speak out, that we are here to help you and it is never too late for us to do everything in our power to catch perpetrators of abuse.”