Uckfield man found guilty of multiple counts of ‘abhorrent’ child abuse

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A paedophile who repeatedly raped and abused a young child has been told by a judge he faces a prison sentence of at least ten years.

Andrew Gibbs of High Street, Uckfield was responsible for what police called a ‘period of systematic abuse’ more than ten years ago, during which time he also made threats to his victim to keep their silence.

He was found guilty in court yesterday (Monday) of two counts of raping a child among multiple other offences.

Kent Police was initially alerted to allegations of child sex offences on October 19, 2016.

A subsequent investigation revealed Gibbs had targeted his victim on multiple occasions.

Police say he forced the child to watch pornography and also made threats he would come back and commit further offences, if anyone was to find out about the abuse.

The 53-year-old was arrested on November 3 2016, after officers executed a search warrant at his former home in Moles Mead, Edenbridge, where a number of computer items were also seized.

Forensic analysis of a laptop taken from the property later led to the recovery of almost 100 indecent images of other children, including those depicting abuse and which were in the most severe category, said police.

Kent Police said it was also discovered Gibbs had been using computer cleaner software in an attempt to remove any trace of his online activities.

Appearing before Maidstone Crown Court, Gibbs was charged with:

• two counts of the rape a child

• two counts of the attempted rape of a child;

• sexual assault of a child;

• inciting a child to engage in sexual activity;

• causing a child to watch a sexual act and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

• He was further charged with three counts of making indecent photographs of a child.

Gibbs pleaded not guilty and the case went to trial.

On Monday (May 14) he was convicted of all the offences, after a jury retuned unanimous verdicts.

The judge, Recorder Mark Weekes said: “These are horrifying offences and it will be a substantial sentence in double digits.”

Gibbs was remanded in custody, to be sentenced on June 28.

Detective Sergeant David Turner, of the west Kent Vulnerable Investigation Team, said: “Gibbs targeted and then repeatedly abused a very young child in some of the most abhorrent ways imaginable.

“He has carried out horrendous crimes which have caused immeasurable trauma to the victim and their family, who he then also forced to endure a trial.

“The fact justice has finally been served is largely down to the incredible courage and bravery of his victim and Gibbs is thankfully now behind bars where he can cause no further harm to young children.

“This case also illustrates that it is never too late to report any sexual offence. We will always treat any information with the upmost confidence and sensitivity.”

Reflecting on the case, an NSPCC spokesperson said: “This is a deeply troubling case in which Gibbs used intimidation to bully his victim into keeping silent.

“Despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary, Gibbs refused to admit his crimes and forced his victim and their family to relive the abuse at trial.

“It is right that Gibbs has now faced justice and we hope that his victim has received all available support to overcome their experiences.”

Children and young people can also call Childline on 0800 1111 or get help online via www.childline.org.uk