Victims urged to stand up and confront abuse

Graham Winstanley
Graham Winstanley
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The family of a victim targeted by a vile Wigan paedophile has urged others who have suffered abuse to speak out and seek justice.

Graham Winstanley, 54, of Appley Lane North, Appley Bridge, has been jailed for a total of 14 years for a slew of offences against children spanning six years.

The popular Wigan mechanic, who worked at Riverway Motorcyles for years, was sentenced for nine counts of sexual assault on two victims aged between 11 and 15 years.

The convicted child abuser, who laughed and grinned multiple times in the dock during his hearing at Bolton Crown Court, was sentenced last week by Judge Timothy Stead following his conviction in late November.

He was found guilty on all counts by a jury at Bolton Crown Court last month. Winstanley initially pleaded not guilty to the original 11 charges. But, after two of them were dropped, he was found guilty of all the remaining charges.

Winstanley was charged with two counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, three counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, one count of assault of a child under 12 by penetration and three counts of sexual activity with a child.

The court heard how he groomed his victims from a young age, offering them alcohol in order to gain their trust before sexually touching them.

One of his victims, who cannot be named, stood to tell the defendant the significant impact he had on her childhood and her adult years.

“I have felt so much guilt,” she said. “Before I could even establish what I was guilty about.

“As I got older I started to feel guilt about overreacting, I thought much worse is happening to other people every day. I didn’t have the right to feel so low ... so dirty.

“A big part of me wanted to tell people what you had done … your family did not deserve to feel their grief. I feel guilt and grief and shame.

“You will have to live with the knowledge of what you have done for the rest of your life. Us, on the other hand, we are free.”

The court heard from defence barrister Geoffrey Lowe, how Winstanley was of previous good character, with no prior convictions and who had behaved as such during the course of the trial.

During his sentencing comment Judge Stead explained how the sexual abuse had spanned from 2007 until 2013.

“The defendant was a predatory sex offender,” he said.

“In the cases of both girls he engaged in grooming activity and various devices to camouflage what he was doing.

“The offending he has been found guilty of spans a number of years.”

For all nine charges, Winstanley was sentenced to a total 14 years and ordered to sign the sexual offenders’ register for the rest of his lifetime.

Since his sentencing, a close family member of the victims has spoken out to encourage other people to come forward and seek justice against their abusers.

They said: “Whatever sentence he got would never be long enough but at least now it shows that if people stand up in what they believe and they know they are telling the truth, justice will prevail.

“Now the victims can move on and be really proud of themselves and the fact that they had the courage to come forward and stay there.

“I do feel sorry for his family, they don’t deserve to have a relative like that.

“He didn’t need to put everyone through that. He could have told them not to come to court and listen to that.

“It’s disgusting what he has done but I hope this gives some encouragement to others, that something can be done about it. We had nothing but respect.

“The police have been brilliant. You think people won’t believe you but as long as you are telling the truth, nothing can trip you up.”