Child rapist who targeted victims for nearly two decades is jailed for 30 years

The survivors of a child rapist who targeted his victims for nearly two decades have been been praised by police for giving evidence so he could be put behind bars.

Jailed - Andrew Mark Ditchfield.

Andrew Mark Ditchfield, 54, was found guilty at Derby Crown Court of 45 offences against 14 victims - 12 boys and two girls - between 1992 and 2011.

He was jailed for 30 years, including an extended licence period of eight years.

Previously of Fourways, Tetney, Grimsby, Ditchield had denied the charges, which included rape, indecent assault and sexual assault, forcing the survivors to give evidence during a three-week long trial.

His offending began in 1992 when he started to target young people in Derby, going on to abuse them in houses, camp sites and leisure facilities.

In the early 2000s he moved to Lincolnshire but continued his offending across the eastern part of the county.

In victim impact statements read out at Derby Crown Court on Friday the survivors, whose identities are protected by law, detailed the profound effect the abuse had on them as young people and how that has continued into their adult lives.

One of the survivors said: "My experience with Ditchfield certainly contributed to me having a criminal record. He led me down a certain path, a path where I did not want to go. I have anger issues. I have mental health issues and suffer terribly with depression.

“I don’t work. I have money problems and I struggle to leave the house and I have made many attempts to end my life.”

Another said: "I was vulnerable. I was living in a terrible home environment and Ditch took advantage of that. I never told anyone as I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I couldn’t talk about it and couldn’t share this with anyone.

“I am on medication for depression and anxiety and the worst thing about all of this is that Ditch has sat through this denying everything. he has such disregard for anyone and no regard for the lives he has ruined.

“I was dreading not being believed and that is why I have kept this dirty horrible secret all my life.”

A third spoke of considering suicide: "For years I locked away in a box the pain this abuse caused me, I never told a soul it’s something I thought would never come out or I’d be believed, I kept it from my family friends partner.

“I’ve been diagnosed with depression and also PTSD after having disturbing flashbacks of the abuse in my nightmares which took my right back to the moment.

“I went to some very dark places inside myself. There were thoughts around suicide, simply because I was so numb and torn down that I felt as though death would be no different.

"I lost my identity. I had no idea who I was anymore. I finally thought the world and my family would be better off without me, I drank and drank and drank until my body couldn’t take anymore combined with an overdose, fortunately I was found and helped in hospital.

“My way of coping is to drink beer , I’ve always drank to forget to try and ease the pain I’ve felt, this has been my way of feeling normal for many years.

“It’s hard to put into words about how the abuse effected me when I don’t know any other way of life, the fake smiles, the pretending I’m ok, hiding myself away when the tears are rolling down my face, but what kind of life is that?

“I’m hopeful today will be the start of the rest of the rest of my life, where I can finally leave all the pain, hurt, anger behind knowing justice has been served. I hope the other survivors here in this room today can start the rest of their lives today as well. We aren’t his victims - we are survivors.”

A fourth victim spoke of losing friends, family and dignity and said: "After the assault I wasn’t really sure on what had actually happened, but the pain inside of me spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming and the self-doubt and blame I was feeling stopped me from turning to my friends and family at first. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone including myself.

“I lost my friends, my family, my dignity, my life.

“When the assault happened to me, I was a young boy. I repeat the word boy because, that is what I was. Now I am a young adult but I have been stuck in a holding pattern for most of my life. I have been unable to heal, unable to move forward. A person that lost his dignity and rights, because they were stolen by this man.

“This man has destroyed so many lives, left people with low self-esteem and fear. He hasn’t just affected his victims individually, he has broken their families and friendship circles. He has left a hole in all of victim’s lives that will never heal and never repair again. A time we can neither get back or change.

“Ditchfield stole my childhood, my hope and my future. This man robbed me of my health, my open nature and my trust in myself and others.”

DS Ritchie Parkins, who led the investigation team, said: “That Ditchfield is now behind bars is because of the strength, character and resilience of the survivors of his abuse.

“His refusal to take any responsibility for the damage he wrought on these young people’s lives shows his utter disregard for anyone other than himself.

“To stand in court and give evidence against this man who has caused such hurt is humbling and I cannot speak highly enough of them.”