A pervert businessman is expected to die behind bars after being jailed for countless sex attacks on children in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Harold Burnett, 81, was locked up for 12 years after being convicted of a sickening reign of abuse against three youngsters. During a trial at Preston Crown Court, Burnett’s victims spoke of the terror and disgust they felt during and in the decades following their abuse at two houses on the Fylde coast.
One woman recalled hiding under her bedcovers at night, when she was haunted by monsters she saw in the floral patterns of her bedroom curtains.
Another man turned to a psychiatrist to help him come to terms with his harrowing past and, as an adult, one of Burnett’s victims was so afraid of repeating the abuse he suffered that he avoided being alone with his own children or their friends.
But despite being convicted of 18 sexual offences against the youngsters, Burnett – who owns a number of successful caravan parks across the Fylde coast – still maintains he is innocent.
Judge Robert Altham, sentencing, said Burnett showed no remorse.
During the trial the court heard Burnett, of Lytham Road, Moss Side, near Kirkham, repeatedly attacked the children at houses in Lytham St Annes.
Judge Altham said: “You abused these children without humility, pity or compassion.
“It seems at work you are a driven man. You applied that drive to what can only be described as the ruthless and persistent abuse of these children.
“In the course of doing that you systematically shattered their lives without so much as a backwards glance for what must only have been your warped need for sexual gratification.”
Despite being convicted of 18 specimen counts reflecting almost a decade of abuse, the businessman still maintains he is innocent.
Judge Altham said: “It is a further tragedy that you do not have the courage to admit what you have done.
“Those courageous survivors of your abuse had to go through a trial which must have been a particularly bruising experience for them and I have absolutely no doubt that the trial came at a further real price to them.
“It must have been akin to being in your thrall again as they were all those years ago.
“I salute their courage and contrast it against you.”
Lisa Worsley, prosecuting, read a statement from one of the victims in which he described feeling dirty, despite the passage of several decades.
She said: “The abuse has had a very negative impact on him. He was concerned that because he had been abused he would become an abuser which affected the way he behaved around his daughters and their friends, never putting himself in a position where he was alone with them.
“He turned into someone without emotion.
“The other man says every area of his life has been affected . As a child, he lived in daily fear and shock as he had no idea why it was happening or when it would happen again.”
Louise Blackwell QC, defending, said Burnett will be a particularly vulnerable inmate due to his age and a number of health difficulties including heart troubles and hearing loss. She added there was no evidence of continuing sexual interest in children and when Burnett’s computer equipment was seized there was no inappropriate material discovered.
Judge Altham said: “It is said you are a man of previous good character. You have done much good in your life by being extraordinarily hardworking, by setting up a business and providing employment for no doubt dozens of people for years and providing services for your customers.”
But the judge said in passing sentence, he was bound by the sentencing powers from the time the offences were committed, adding: “Had these sentences been committed in modern times, the maximum sentences would be far higher.”