South Yorkshire child molester given 30 years of custody had feared dying in prison

A child molester who sexually abused three youngsters between the 1970s and 1980s has been sentenced to 30 years of custody.

By Jon Cooper
Friday, 6th May 2022, 4:23 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 4:28 pm

Sheffield Crown Court heard on May 6 how John Kelk, aged 68, of Wingfield Road, Athersley South, Barnsley, was found guilty after a previous trial of 22 counts involving the sexual abuse and rape of three young girls.

Judge Sarah Wright said that over a period of many years in the 1970s and 1980s Kelk systematically and repeatedly sexual abused each of the complainants in the most appalling way.

She added: “Those girls were subjected to repeated sexual abuse and acts of a degrading nature and violent nature.”

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Pictured is John Kelk, aged 68, of Wingfield Road, Athersley South, Barnsley, who was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court to 30 years of custody after he pleased guilty to 22 counts involving sexually abusing and raping three young girls during the 1970s and 1980s.

Judge Wright also said: “The impact on their lives has been devastating. Their adolescence and childhood cannot be reclaimed. Each suffered enormous psychological harm.”

Kelk had touched the first youngster intimately, raped her and forced her to perform a sex act, according to Judge Wright, and he also violated her with a screwdriver and a lollipop.

Judge Wright said Kelk also systematically sexually abused and raped two more young girls.

She added Kelk had threatened to kill the first complainant’s father if she disclosed what he had been doing to her and all of his victims had been too afraid to speak out for fear of not being believed.

The first complainant told Kelk during the hearing: “What you did to me did not just hurt me physically but emotionally and mentally.”

She added: “I used to be embarrassed by what happened. I blamed myself for all this. I lack self-esteem. This has affected me all through my childhood into adulthood.”

This complainant further told Kelk: “I want to be free from you and the memories and pain you caused me. I deserve to be happy.”

The second complainant also told the defendant: “The truth is you don’t deserve the time and effort in my thoughts. I have no time in my life for people like you.”

The third complainant said: “I was scared when he abused me. I felt deeply ashamed and dirty and could not tell anyone because of fears of repercussions.”

Defence barrister Richard Canning said Kelk accepts the jury’s verdict is correct but he had been too scared to accept what he had done because he was afraid he would die in prison.

Mr Canning added Kelk, who is not a well-man, is very sorry for what he has put the victims through.

Judge Wright said she wished to pay tribute to the three victims, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and stated that they have shown the “utmost courage”.

She said: “For many years they have not been heard. They have had no voice. They gave evidence in court speaking about the most traumatic and intensely personal episodes from their past.”

Judge Wright added: “I say to each of them, ‘you have been heard’.”

She sentenced Kelk to 30 years of custody and said any prospect of an early release would be for the consideration of the parole board.

Kelk must also serve a one-year extension on his licence period as and when he may be released from prison.