Northern Ireland news

Victim of Co Down paedophile couple: I lost all my childhood memories and developed PTSD

Gary and Heather Talbot

The 20-year-old victim of Co Down paedophile couple Gary and Heather Talbot has spoken of how abuse at their hands left her "traumatised".

Gary Talbot, 60, was today sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty to sexual offences including rape of a child and gross indecency, as well as making a distributing indecent images of a child.

His wife Heather Talbot, aged 59  plead guilty to charges including aiding and abetting rape and gross indecency.

In a statement released after she watched the Co Down couple being handed sentences, she said: 

“I am glad that my abusers have finally faced justice and will have to serve time in prison for what they did to me.

"I was only a child when they took my innocence away. The abuse left me traumatised and upset as they betrayed my trust in the most despicable way.

"The trauma caused me to lose all my childhood memories and develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)."

The victim went on to thank her family, friends and the police detective who investigated her case for their support and compassion.

"The past year has been very difficult for me, my family and friends. I would like to thank them for being there for me, not only for every court hearing but for supporting me day to day as I have struggled to come to terms with my abuse.

"I would also like to thank the police detective who investigated my case. She has been thorough and dedicated whilst at the same time being compassionate, caring and kind to me.

"Pursuing justice has been a long process however seeing my abusers jailed has given me renewed strength and I am now looking forward to the future in which I’m hoping to become a counsellor as counselling has been essential in my recovery and thank you to my counsellor as you have inspired me to help others overcome traumatic experiences.

"I would really like to thank and commend all survivors of sexual abuse for your amazing strength as it has helped me to fight to get my justice.

"Together we will send a message across the world that there is no shame in being a survivor of sexual abuse - the shame is on the abuser.”

 

During a failed bail application last year, the court heard how police uncovered photographic evidence that showed Gary Talbot and his wife engaging in sexual acts with the victim.

 

The couple's home was initially searched October 2017 when a number of devices, computers and a laptop were seized.

Gary Talbot said his “wife was present” during some incidents and “could’ve taken some of the photos,” some of which he distributed to “like-minded individuals in chat rooms”.

Heather Talbot admitted to “dressing the victim for her husband” but claimed she left the room and "did not know what happened after that".

The couple have been on remand at Maghaberry and Hydebank Wood prisons since February 2018.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “This is an absolutely horrific case in which Gary and Heather Talbot acted together over a period of years to abuse a child appallingly.

“The attacks carried out by this despicable couple will have had a devastating and long-term impact on their victim.

“We hope the survivor is now able to find the support needed to help them move forward with their life. We would urge any other victims of abuse to speak out, confident in the knowledge that they will be listened to, no matter how much time has passed.”

Anyone who has been affected by abuse or is worried about a child can contact the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or at help@nspcc.org.uk

Our Childline service is also available to children 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk

 

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