A 65-year-old man has been jailed for more than 10 years for assaulting children over a 26-year period.
Martin Arnold, of Bristol Road Lower, Weston-super-Mare, appeared at Bristol Crown Court today (Friday 26 May) after pleading guilty to 23 counts of sexual offences against six victims and one count of possessing pornographic images of children.
Arnold was handed a 12-year prison sentence as well as a being ordered to register on the sexual offenders register for life. He was also handed a life-long Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
The court heard how between 1996 and 2003 and again in 2020, Arnold sexually assaulted young girls on multiple occasions in various locations across Somerset.
During this time, the defendant groomed the children with money, gifts, and day trips.
Arnold was arrested on in February 2021 and prohibited images of children were recovered from laptops seized by police.
Investigating officer DC Anthony Davis said: “Many of the Arnold’s victims are now adults and have lived most of their lives with the trauma of what happened to them for the past few decades.
“I commend each and every one of Arnold’s victims for the incredible courage it has taken to support our investigation and to get them the justice they so rightfully deserve.
“The youngest victim, who after taking part in a Mental Health Week at her primary school, found the strength to speak out about her ordeal in a very challenging situation.
“This initial disclosure resulted in further victims being identified and being given the opportunity to speak out about what had happened to them.
“With all their help, we have been able to get a dangerous man off the street so he can no longer harm any other child.”
In a personal statement, one of Arnold’s victims said: “Now I have been able to speak to people about what happened, I do not feel so ashamed and realise what support I do have out there.
“I will always feel weird and anxious about what happened, but I can let it go realising I had nothing to be ashamed about and he cannot hurt anyone else.
Another victim said: “I have carried a huge weight on my shoulders for 25 years and it is a relief now I have been able to say out loud what happened to me. I no longer feel like I have a dark secret.
“Although on the outside I have got on with life, what Martin did to me has never left me and never will.
“There is strength in numbers though and I am incredibly grateful to the other victims who were brave enough to come forward and therefore encouraged me to do so.”
If you are a victim of rape or sexual assault, please come forward. It is never too late to report offences to police.
Victims of rape or sexual assault, recent or non-recent, can self-refer to The Bridge, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre available 24/7 365 days a year. Visit their website at www.thebridgecanhelp.org.uk or call 0117 342 6999.
You can also visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org for details of charities and organisations who are experts in supporting victims.