Abuse victim’s fresh agony at online trolls

Gordon Heaton
Gordon Heaton

A WOMAN who waived her right to anonymity to encourage other victims of sexual abuse to come forward has spoken of the vile bullying she has received since.

Sara Worrall, 24, chose to speak out about the abuse she received at the hands of stepdad Gordon Heaton in a bid to encourage other victims to report their abusers to the police but has since been the victim of an online hate campaign.

Heaton, 74, who pleaded guilty at first but then applied to the court to change his plea, was jailed for 11 months last week at Liverpool Crown Court for indecently assaulting Sara when she was just 11 years old in 2002.

Sara, who lives in Norley with her two children, originally spoke out after Heaton’s guilty plea and has since received abuse online from people accusing her of lying and making other unpleasant allegations about her personal life.

After Heaton was sentenced Sara said: “They heard what I heard. They were there but still they call me and slander me saying I am a bad mum and I don’t look after my children.

“They don’t know anything about me and I think it’s sad they are denying what they heard.

“It disgusts me that they still stand by him. They have made threats to put me in hospital perminantly.

“I want to help encourage over people to come forward like I have and I have never taken any money for the articles in the paper. It’s not about the money and it never will be.

“What he did to me has completely ruined me. I went off the rails and turned to drugs because I wanted forget about it.

“I never told anyone and to the people who disbelieve me I’m going to prove you wrong. I don’t want their apologies because what they have said can never be taken back.”

Jailing Heaton, of Upper Dicconson Street, Swinley, Judge Steven Everett said: “It is difficult to understand why you did such a terrible thing. She was a vulnerable child and you have shown no remorse. You deny the offence you so obviously committed.

“It is appropriate that the message goes out to you and others that if you go out and do these things and are eventually caught you can expect to go to prison.”

White-haired Heaton, who listened to proceedings via hearing loop system, had pleaded guilty to indecent assault. He has a previous similar conviction in 1964.

Judge Everett ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.

Eric Lamb, prosecuting, said that the offences took place after he had driven the girl out to the countryside. The offences came to light last year and when Heaton was interviewed in September he claimed she was telling lies.

Sara said: “I can’t explain how I felt really. I’m still a bit numb about it as his friends are still bullying me even though they heard he had done it before in 1964.

“I don’t think 11 months is long enough - he ruined my childhood and my life. It is not enough for what he put me through.”

Sara has previously told the Wigan Evening Post how Heaton came into her life when he started dating her mum when she was five years old.

“He was really nice at first; he used to take me and my brother and sister to a farm in Beech Hill so we could see the animals. We liked him. But it was when we grew up a bit and my sister got a job and my brother began hanging around with his friends that he changed.

“He took me to the farm on my own when I was 10 years old and it was then when it started.”

Sara said Heaton abused her and then told her she would be taken into care if she told anyone what was going on.

Heaton and her mum split six years ago after having a child together, but Sara only plucked up the courage to report the crime recently.

Sara’s mum Lillian Worrall said: “I would have liked to have seen him get a bit longer. I was really shocked to find out he had a previous conviction. If I had known that I wouldn’t have let him anywhere near my kids.”