Man given suspended sentence for charges of historic indecent assault on 12-year-old in Beccles

Ipswich Crown Court. Archant Library.

Ipswich Crown Court. Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

A 68-year-old man has been given a 15-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of two counts of indecent assault on a 12-year-old girl, dating back to the late 1970s.

Frederick Thirtle, from Ellough, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on March 3 for sentencing after he was found guilty following a trial in December.

Thirtle had been summonsed to court and initially appeared before Lowestoft Magistrates on June 8, 2016, to answer the charges of indecent assault on the girl at an address in Beccles in 1979.

The girl, now a woman, contacted police in May 2015 to report that she had been sexually assaulted on two occasions. She initially didn't tell anyone as she felt ashamed and guilty about what had happened but, years later in 1987, she confided in a boyfriend that she had been abused as a child.

In interview Thirtle initially denied sexually assaulting the girl, however he then admitted that it was possible that he would have been involved in tickling her and 'horseplay'. Police had spoken to those closest to the woman who confirmed that she had previously told them that she had been abused and the woman had drawn accurate maps of the location where the assaults had occurred – despite not being back at the premises since she was a girl.

Thirtle was subsequently charged with the offences, and on Friday was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,500 and was ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for ten years.

The woman said: 'I am so glad I finally found the courage to report the sexual assaults against me when I was a 12-year-old child. The assaults changed me to the very core of my being and those changes can never be undone. However achieving justice some 37 years later has also been a life changing experience for me, this time for the better. I feel like a great weight has been lifted and I can finally find some form of closure.

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'I would like to express my grateful thanks to the Gemini team, in particular PC Annie Falgate. They have supported me so well throughout the process, from when I first reported the assaults in May 2015 through to sentencing. To victims of similar crimes, no matter how long ago, I would encourage you to report them to the police, they will help and support you; they really do understand how difficult it is to speak out.'

Detective Sgt Simon Fitch, who oversees the Gemini team in Lowestoft, said: 'Many of the individuals we work with talk about finding the courage to finally speak to police and it is this bravery that can lead to their abusers being brought to justice. All cases will be investigated and even if you don't want to go to court we can help by listening and providing support.'

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