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Letter from sex crime victim read to councillors

Text of statement in full

This is the letter written by a victim of former East Devon councillor John Humphreys, who was convicted of 10 sex offences against children, including six which the judge said should be considered as the modern equivalent or rape.

The letter contains some distressing content, which left Councillor Eileen Wragg, who read it aloud to councillors this week, visibly upset.

“Dear Councillor Wragg

As a ward member for my family in Exmouth I thank you for reading this statement on my behalf. This follows from council appointing former Conservative member John Humphreys as an alderman in December 2019, before removing that [award] in September 2021. I have provided you with my name which has been verified by the police. 

“I am one of many victims of John Humphrey’s crimes and I want members and officers of this council and the public to hear of what I have had to endure for the last 22 years. I was sent as a 14-year-old from my school on work experience to Humphrey’s gardening business. I was a very innocent 14-year-old and did not know what to do about his assaults on me until I finally told my mother in 2004. She took me to Exmouth police station where I made a full, signed statement - then I heard nothing at all, except I was regularly harassed by local police officers afterwards.

“In 2005 they just said that the case had been dropped. I did my best to get on with my life and worked hard asa self-employed builder but the hurt inside me was always there. Then in 2011 and 2012 the Jimmie Saville case was reported. Also, I met my partner and when we found out she was pregnant I thought ‘let’s do something about it now I’m bringing a child into the world. I rang up to the case reopened again in 2012. All I got was a threatening phone call from a Tiverton officer. His near exact words were ‘Humphreys is now mayor. He’s getting on with his life. If you do anything or proceed with this in court we will come for your friends and family.’

“I made an official complaint about the threats and was asked into Sidmouth Police Station. They said an apology will be read out. It was hand written and wasn’t even an apology. I wasn’t given anything in writing that I could take away. When Humphreys’ case came to court this year, not being able to talk about how the police had treated me was my biggest concern. ‘Don’t open this can of worms right now’ was all that was said to me. I just felt like blurting it out, stood in the [witness] box, once all the lies were being thrown at me. 

“In 2015, after many more years of mental stress, a knock came on the door of my mum’s house. It was a female police officer. Someone else had come forward. I couldn’t believe it. I’d not been believed twice - but the other victim was a lot older than me and maybe more credible, and there was a third and fourth victim, too. But it still took another six years for justice to be done. 

Humphreys was originally arrested on the 11 May 2016.  On the 24 January 2017 a file was handed to the Crown Prosecution Service. It took them a long time to deal with this and the case came to court in August 2021. The police say that Humphreys knew that the case was live during this time, 2016 to 2021. His [Humphreys’] legal team communicated with the officer in charge and at no time was he told that the case was not being proceeded with. This leaves me wondering ‘who else knew and how was he allowed to carry on as usual being a councillor at Exmouth and East Devon?’

When he was convicted Humphreys’ sentence was set by the judge to 21 years, meaning he must serve at least two-thirds - 14 years. He will remain on the sex offenders register indefinitely. I have been told that this is one of the longest sentences ever passed for crimes of this sort. 

I consider that part of my healing from all of this started when I walked into the witnesses box and say what I needed and finally be heard. I insisted they took away the screens so I could look him in the eye. It has helped me with my psychological fear of him as I have always viewed him as a man with influence and standing in the community. I still feel that Humphreys has been favoured because of his connections, his apparent good character and social standing as a councillor. I think he sat as a representative on the Devon and Cornwall Police Scrutiny Committee and he obviously knew all the top people in the Conservatives and the Masons. 

In my mind he has been a monster to me. He took away my teenage years and this has gone into my adulthood. I should have retained that innocence - but that choice was taken away from me by this man. 

There are still so many questions to be answered. After the verdict I was still ignored. I’d like to be heard. It is important to me that the council hears me, hears my statement. What difference it makes I don’t know. Maybe a few people will be sat there worried. It will be nice to be heard."

Responding to the letter being read at a council meeting, Devon and Cornwall Police have issued a statement saying: “Whilst we sincerely hoped that the guilty verdict and strong sentence would allow our victims to move on with their lives, last night’s statement does show that more still needs to be done.

“Therefore, officers will be reaching out to the victims in this case to offer them further support, and if requested, to assist with commencing a formal complaint into how this case was initially handled.”

Read more about the context of the case here: https://bit.ly/3rRfTxe

 

 

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