Sheffield man who sexually abused girl, 8, is finally jailed as victim who suffered nightmares and flashbacks speaks out about her 'life sentence'
A Sheffield man who sexually abused a young girl in the 70s and 80s has been told he could spend seven years in prison.
Anthony Hardcastle, of Hawthorn Road, High Green, has been jailed today for offences which started in 1978 and continued until the early 1980s.He was convicted after a Sheffield Crown Court trial after his victim, aged only eight when the offences began, reported indecent assaults she said had blighted her life over many years.
Judge Roger Thomas QC told 63-year-old Hardcastle: “You had not been in trouble with the courts or the police over the years, but you have been convicted last week of six offences of indecent assault. These date back to the late 70s and early 80s, beginning in 1978 and the early part of 1979 when you were 20 years of age.
"From those formative years, she (the victim) was subjected to these offences.”
He told him the damage done to his victim, who was left scared and confused by what had happened, had carried through to her adult years and caused her severe psychological harm, before she finally disclosed what happened in 2019.
For count one of the charges, he jailed Hardcastle for three years, plus another year to add at the end due to the type of offence.
For count three, he was jailed for two years to run concurrently, with sentences of one year each for three more counts, to run concurrently. On count eight, he was jailed for three years, to run consecutively.
It means if he serves the full jail term, he will be behind bars for seven years. He will also be on the sex offenders register indefinitely.
He was sentenced on the basis of laws that were in place in the 1970s.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave a victim impact statement, revealing she suffered for 42 years with feelings of shame, and repulsion for her own body because of the childhood abuse.
"I was eight years old when the first incident happened,” she said. “I was so scared and confused. I didn’t understand what happened but felt it was wrong.”
She said she grew up thinking it was her fault.
She said her education suffered as a result of what happened, and the feeling of shame and stigma had never left her. She said she was not even at peace when she slept as the abuse left her suffering recurring nightmares, and flashbacks.
"All the time I just wanted to shout to him ‘stop and leave me alone,” she said.
"For me, it has been a life sentence, and I’m completely innocent.”
She said she had not reported it until 2019 because she feared no one would believe her. She said she felt the recognition of what her attacker did would give her peace of mind.
After the hearing, she said she felt the sentence meant justice had been done.
She also played tribute to South Yorkshire Police and the Sheffield Rape and Sexual Assault Centre for their support.
She said: “It has not been an easy process but if it gives just one person the strength to think that they will be believed and come forward, then it will have been worth it. There is help out there.”