The story of one child abuse victim's 50-year wait for justice

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A woman who was sexually abused more than 50 years ago has finally seen her attacker sentenced.

Andrew Herbert admitted 10 counts of sexually assaulting Liz Roberts, from West Somerset, and another girl, who must remain anonymous, in the early 1970s.

The five decades between Herbert's crime and conviction is one of the longest a South West court has seen.

She says it is important to speak out and wants to encourage others to do so.

"It's a hidden scourge and I'm sure it happens far more often than we think it does," she said.

"And the only way to stop it is to talk about it. And put the shame where it belongs - and that's on the perpetrator, not the survivor."

Liz was eight years old when she was assaulted by Andrew Herbert, who was 15

Liz was eight years old when she was assaulted by Herbert, who was 15 at the time.

She said: "He would be put in a position of care and responsibility of me.

"He would be babysitting and he would sexually abuse me during those periods when he should have been caring for me.

"It didn't stop out of any goodness on his part - it stopped because of fear that he was going to be caught."

'My parents knew about it'

Liz says her parents were aware of the abuse, but did not support her.

"My parents knew about it 30 years ago and did nothing, quite the opposite.

"I didn't feel like anyone would listen, my parents hadn't listened. I thought I would be ostracised as someone who caused trouble. I didn't think I'd be believed as I didn't have any proof.

"Because who is going to believe an eight year old child with the memories that are boxed off, that are flashbacks?"

'I took all the shame and blame on myself'

Mrs Roberts went on to become a police officer. But she felt she could not report her abuser, even though she was the law.

"I just felt completely emotionally overwhelmed," she said. "Back then, as well, sexual offences weren't treated the way they were now.

"Victims weren't supported the way they are now, and again, I didn't want to get into trouble.

"I had no proof and I absolutely thought I was going mad. I took all the shame and the blame on myself."

  • Liz Roberts speaking out about the sexual abuse she suffered more than 50 years ago after finally seeing her attacker sentenced

Mrs Roberts confronted Herbert in 2020. He replied with a confession letter, which she gave to police.

She said it was "the missing piece of the puzzle" - and a chance for her to get justice.

Herbert admitted 10 counts of indecent assault. Four against Mrs Roberts and six against another underage girl in the 1970s.

Andrew Herbert wrote a letter of confession

He faced trial for two rape counts against Mrs Roberts, a jury at Bristol Crown Court acquitted him of one, and could not decide the other.

The 67-year-old, of Goodrich, Herefordshire, was handed a two-year community order and given indefinite restraining orders preventing contact with either woman.

He also received an 18-month curfew, must carry out 225 hours’ community service and was ordered to pay compensation to both victims. He must also report as a sex offender for five years.

Liz Roberts says she can now start rebuilding her life: “I waited 50 years to tell my story as I didn’t think anyone would care about what happened.

"That clearly isn’t true and I only wish I’d reported it sooner. There have of course been times when it has brought the trauma of what he did back, and I still have a long way to go in my recovery journey, but I have no regrets.

“I’d urge anyone who has been abused to talk to someone. There is support out there and people will help whether you want offences investigated or not.

“Justice comes in many forms. Feeling the care and support of everyone around me means that I can now hold my head high – that is the best kind of justice.”

If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this article, you can get help by contacting:

  • Avon and Somerset Police - Have specially trained officers who will listen to you and treat you with sensitivity and compassion, click here

  • Voluntary organisations, such as Rape CrisisThe Survivors Trust and Woman's aid.

  • The Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12 to 2.30pm and 7 to 9.30pm every day of the year).

  • A hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department. A doctor or practice nurse at your GP surgery.

  • A genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic, a contraceptive clinic,  young people's service.

  • For mental health advice, Samaritans operate a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at

  • Papyrus offers mental health support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am – midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to

Where can you find help if you're struggling?

Samaritans run a 24/7 free-to-use helpline (116 123) for anyone who needs a friendly face to talk to. Alternatively, people can email or visit its website, which is home to a wide array of learning resources.

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) operates a helpline (0800 58 58 58), which is in service between 5pm and midnight every day. Or if you prefer not to speak on the phone, you could try the CALM webchat service.

If you would prefer not to talk but want some mental health support, you could text SHOUT to 85258. Shout offers a confidential 24/7 text service providing support if you are in crisis and need immediate help.

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