Victim 'missed out' on childhood as a result of sexual abuse, court hears

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

Donna Spurdens has been jailed for 'grave' sexual abuse following a trial at Norwich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

The victim of “persistent and grave” sexual abuse has told how she missed out on her childhood as a result of the offending.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, described how she had difficultly sleeping and suffered nightmares because of the abuse.

Norwich Crown Court heard how Donna Spurdens, 55, of Blo Norton Road, South Lopham, near Diss, was convicted of the "grave" abuse last month after an 18-day trial.

Spurdens appeared for sentence on Monday (November 22) after being found guilty of a total of 13 offences, between 2000 and 2017.

The offences include two counts of sexual assault; three counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity; two counts of sexual activity with a child and two indecent images offences.

Chris Paxton, prosecuting, said the victim suffered “severe psychological harm” as a result of the offending.

The court heard impact statements read by the victim ahead of Spurdens’ sentencing, in which she described how she had “nightmares and flashbacks about what happened” to her.

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She also had nightmares about possible not guilty verdicts in the trial in which she had to stand up and describe “very difficult things”.

The victim said she felt she had “missed out” on her childhood as a result of the abuse she suffered and wanted Spurdens to be punished for what she had done.

She also told how she and hoped the sentence would “give me some closure to know I’ve been believed”.

Sentencing Spurdens to a total of nine years in prison Judge Anthony Bate described it as a “sad and troubling case” which had suffered delays twice previously due to the coronavirus lockdown.

He said offences had been “persistent and grave” and insisted “imprisonment was inevitable”.

Charles Evans, mitigating, said consequences for the the defendant, who does not accept the guilty verdicts, would be “life-changing”.

He said she could expect a “serious sentence” but urged the judge to keep it “as short as possible”.

He said the defendant suffered from depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Spurdens was made the subject of an indefinite restraining order meaning she cannot contact the victim directly or indirectly and must also sign on the sex offenders register indefinitely.