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Prolific Derbyshire paedophile jailed for 30 years

|News, Sexual offences

A paedophile from Grimsby has been given a 30 year sentence for over a decade of sexual abuse in Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.

Andrew Ditchfield (54) waged a campaign of serious sexual abuse against vulnerable children throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He worked his way into positions of trust where he could get access to children, chose those who were most vulnerable to him and abuse them without conscience.

He used positions such as a community volunteer post, a cub leader and even a foster carer to exploit children, carefully selecting children he thought he could get away with abusing and grooming to submit to his advances. When he had no actual position to exploit, he pretended to be a social worker to gain a family’s trust. Later on, he moved to Lincolnshire and used his position as a junior golf coach to continue his abuse.

He offered children, mainly boys, attention and lifestyle choices he thought they craved. He allowed them to sleep over at his houses, to smoke, drink alcohol and access adult material.

He took them on exciting trips away, sometimes convincing their families or carers that they were official trips organised by the Scouts or other organisations he was involved with. He even gave one victim a mobile phone. The price the children would pay for this lifestyle was to be gradually exposed to sexual abuse at his hands, escalating to serious offences including rape.

In 2017, one of Ditchfield’s victims came forward to report abuse and disclosed that he was aware that his brother had also been abused by Ditchfield. Another victim came forward after disclosing abuse during therapy. A pattern of offending became clear and a significant investigation was launched.

The CPS was involved at an early stage to provide early investigative advice to the police to  help identify lines of enquiry and evidence that could be gathered. As evidence of Ditchfield’s abuse was uncovered, more victims came forward until there were 14 victims, including two who came forward from Lincolnshire to report offences he had committee there.

Andrew Ditchfield was prosecuted for a total of 45 offences against 14 victims. He was found guilty of all 45 offences in July, following a six-week week trial at Derby Crown Court. He was today (Friday 15 October) sentenced to 30 years in prison with an extended licence of eight years.

Chris Knowles from the CPS said: “The sheer scale of Ditchfield’s offending is staggering. Prosecuting this case has revealed a picture of relentless offending, preying on the most vulnerable children the defendant could find and doing unspeakable harm to these people’s lives.

"Ditchfield portrayed himself as the person people thought they wanted in their lives, providing attention and excitement. He manipulated families and carers to believe in him. The betrayal of this trust left survivors feeling alone and isolated.

“Understandably, people have come forward as they have heard about the investigation and the case. It is so important that all of Andrew Ditchfield’s victims have had a voice. This has meant that we have built a case that has shown Andrew Ditchfield for who he is – a dangerous and manipulative predator.

"Even throughout his trial he has lied about his actions and refused to take responsibility. Instead he blamed his victims, accusing them of colluding to invent their allegations. The guilty verdicts from the jury and today’s sentence have shown that he, and only he, is to blame. I hope that having their voices heard in court will be of some help to the survivors of this appalling abuse.

“In preparing for today’s sentencing, the CPS has made it clear to the court just how much of a risk Ditchfield poses to society. The seriousness of his offending and refusal to accept responsibility for his actions have been reflected in today’s jail term.”

Building the case:

Investigations began in 2017 as the first allegations were made against Andrew Ditchfield. A specialist rape prosecutor worked alongside the investigation from an early stage to help detectives identify lines of enquiry and evidence they could gather that could be used to build a case against Andrew Ditchfield.

Even after Ditchfield was charged, victims continued to come forward. Not only was it important to give these victims a voice, but the CPS knew that evidence from additional victims would help strengthen the case and demonstrate a continued pattern of behaviour. Once a defendant is charged, additional offences cannot automatically be added. However, the CPS applied successfully to have the offences against these further victims heard by the jury.

The evidence given by the victims was critical. They were able to give their accounts of what happened to them in a compelling manner, initially by video recordings of their first interviews with the police and ultimately in court from the witness box. Although the actual offences were committed in private, the CPS used supporting evidence such as hearing from witnesses at the time who could confirm the times and dates of Ditchfield’s activities or people close to the survivors who had seen their reactions and distress as they tried to deal with the aftermath of the abuse they suffered.

As part of the sentencing exercise, the CPS presented a case that Andrew Ditchfield is a significant risk to society and is extremely dangerous. This included his continued denials and refusal to take responsibility for his actions and the lengths he went to to target and groom his victims.

Notes to editors

  • Chris Knowles is a senior crown prosecutor from the CPS East Midlands rape and serious sexual offences team

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