Sex abuse survivor hits out at attacker's sentence

Lee Vincent

Lee Vincent. - Credit: Norfolk police

A sex abuse survivor whose attacker was jailed has said his sentence was not long enough - and that she fears there may be more victims.

Lee Vincent, 54, of Canterbury Way, Thetford, was caught by a paedophile hunter group after having sexual conversations with a girl he thought was 12, but in fact was an adult decoy working for the group, Norwich Crown Court heard.

A video of him being snared was spotted by two women he abused 30 years ago, and he was later charged with rape, attempted rape and indecent assault on one victim and indecent assault on a second victim back in the 1980s. 

He pleaded guilty at court and, after also admitting attempting to incite a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity between January and March 2019, he was jailed for a total of seven and a half years in September.

But one of the women he abused said the sentence came as a blow.

Speaking anonymously, she said: "He pleaded not guilty right up until the day of the trial and he changed his plea to guilty.

"The emotional lead-up was horrendous. Seven and a half years altogether, to me it was  a real disappointment and so unfair."

She said the last-minute change of plea prompted mixed emotions - a sense of disappointment that she would not get to have her say, but relief she didn't have to face the ordeal.

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"I have not been to work for three months," she said.

"There are periods throughout adulthood where I have pushed it to the back of my mind. I'm very much a person who tries to get on with life. I would never class myself as a victim, I am a survivor."

But she said the abuse had impacted much of her adult life, including making romantic relationships and trust more difficult and limiting her confidence when she was younger.

Stephen Bates is facing sentence at Norwich Crown Court for running a man over in a van. PIC: Norwic

Stephen Bates is facing sentence at Norwich Crown Court for running a man over in a van. PIC: Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

She fears Vincent has other victims, and hopes speaking out may encourage them and others affected by sexual abuse more widely to find the confidence to speak out.

"I'm hoping that people come forward," she said. "They might recognise him, or they might just see the article and say 'I'm so glad he's been brought to justice'."

She said after years of keeping the abuse bottled up, it had been a difficult decision to go to police, but that both her work and having her own children had encouraged her to do so.

"Back in the 1980s it wasn't talked about," she said. "It wouldn't have occurred to me to tell a teacher. There was not that attitude.

"My job was a turning point. But you think 'who is going to believe me?' 'I can't prove it, it's been years'."

She praised the work of the Sue Lambert trust, a Norfolk-based charity which works to support victims of sexual abuse and which has been providing counselling sessions.

For information, contact 01493 806259 - lines are open from Monday to Thursday, 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm - or email info@suelamberttrust.org

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