Jail for child abuser who left 'profound and lasting impact' on victim

Anthony John Hemmings, 69, of Yate, was convicted at Bristol Crown Court. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A Yate man has been jailed after sexually abusing two young girls between 2003 and 2008.

Anthony John Hemmings, 69, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on 22 September.

Now in their 20s, and without knowing each other, the women contacted the police separately to report his behaviour.

In a victim impact statement, one of them described the effect the abuse had on her life. She said: “I just found it hard to trust male figures in my life after [the defendant] did what he did.”

She told the court that, due to the impact of her experience on her mental health, she dropped out of her studies despite being a straight-A student.

“The inability to pursue further education has left me with unfulfilled potential and longing for the opportunities that should have been within reach. There is a profound and lasting impact this childhood trauma has had on my life.

"The emotional and psychological wounds inflicted during those critical years echo throughout my existence, impairing relationships, eroding confidence and severing ties.

"I am grateful that I have been listened to, that I have been believed, and aim to heal the wounds that this traumatic experience has left behind," she said.

The other victim said: “I kept that secret with me and over the years I was finding it harder and harder to deal with. I spoke to numerous people on the Childline website.

"They told me I needed to report this crime, but I found it hard to come out and tell people what happened to me.

“I used to have night terrors and there were numerous times that I woke up in the middle of the night, and even throughout the day, thinking of what happened to me and knowing it wasn’t right.”

The abuse stopped her from going out socially and she sought medical help for anxiety and depression.

Detective Sergeant Tom Williams said: “I sincerely admire the strength the women have shown in coming forward. They have each spoken movingly about the impact Hemmings’ actions have had on their lives.

“Hemmings acted for his own gratification without regard for anyone else, and did so repeatedly. I hope that the sentence handed down today will reassure the women that other children will be kept safe from Anthony Hemmings.

"I also hope that the case will give confidence to anyone else who has suffered sexual abuse to know they will be listened to and offences will be thoroughly investigated.”

Sergeant Williams added: “If you have experienced sexual abuse, no matter when, do please seek help. Get in touch with The Bridge sexual assault referral centre.

"They offer counselling, medical care and practical help all day, every day, and it will still be your choice whether or not to contact the police.”

Hemmings has been jailed for 33 months. He had previously denied the charges, but was convicted by a jury following a trial.

He was found guilty of:

  • Indecent assault on a girl under the age of 14

  • Gross indecency with a girl under the age of 16

  • Engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 and 15

  • Two counts of assaulting a girl under the age of 13 by touching