York man jailed for 17 years after being convicted of historic child sex offences

A 79-year-old York man has been imprisoned for 17 years for historic sex offences against four children aged four to nine.

John Anthony Whitehead has been jailed for 17 years.

John Anthony Whitehead was charged with 20 offences dating back to the 1980s and 90s including four charges of gross indecency with a boy under 14, 10 charges of indecent assault on a girl under 14, four charges of indecent assault on a boy, one charge of gross indecency with a girl under 14, and one charge of inciting a girl under 14 to commit an act of gross indecency.

Police have paid tribute to the bravery of his victims in coming forward after reading a local newspaper article urging victims of historic sex crimes that it is never too late to report them.

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Whitehead initially pleaded not guilty and stood trial on 8 February, however, when presented with one victim’s testimony, he changed all of his pleas to guilty.

He was sentenced in York Crown Court on Thursday to 11 years consecutive imprisonment and a special custodial sentence of 7 years comprising a custodial term of six years and an extended licence period of one year.

Detective Inspector Jackie Smart, of York CID said: “The bravery of these victims cannot be overestimated, nor can the impact the abuse has had on their lives. They have stuck with what was a long and difficult investigation over the past three years to see Whitehead brought to justice.

"Nothing can take away the affect the abuse had on their lives and the distress it has caused them over the years. But I hope the sentence handed out to Whitehead brings some closure for them and that they can now put it behind them knowing that he is now behind bars for the terrible abuse he inflicted on them.

“The first victim to come forward did so after seeing a newspaper article about another jailed sex offender and a comment from North Yorkshire Police that it is never too late to report sexual abuse. That is absolutely the case, and I hope other victims of abuse who are reading this are reassured by this and that they do come forward and report what has happened to them.”

The police have said victims of abuse should call 101, or Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), on 0330 223 0362, or go to www.bridgehousesarc.org/.