For years they lived with the darkest of secrets… one by one their evil pasts caught up with them

It took years, even decades, for these sexual predators to face justice for their appalling crimes.

But all of them were locked up after their shocking abuse was finally laid bare in court.

Victims bravely stood up to them, to ensure they paid for what they had subjected them to.

Each of them now forms part of a growing number of older, historic offenders in British jails – as victims feel more empowered to speak out than they would have done in the past, and police and prosecutors try and redress the wrongs of the past.

Michael Coleman

Michael Coleman

Coleman raped and sexually abused a 15-year-old boy during the 1970s.

He pleaded his victim with alcohol before taking him back to his home and preying on him.

The horrific abuse started when Coleman, now 79, touched the boy inappropriately in the showers.

Coleman bought the boy food and alcohol and pressured him to perform sex acts.

The boy believed the assaults were ‘required’ if you wanted to become a professional footballer, Bolton Crown Court heard.

The victim remained quiet about the abuse for decades until he came across an article in 2018, and read that Coleman had been convicted of abusing young boys in the 1980s.

Earlier this month, Coleman was jailed for eight years.

“Your victim told police he knew what was happening was not right but he went along with it as he felt he owed you something,” sentencing, Judge Tom Gilbart told Coleman.

“I thought at one stage that this is what happened or this is what was required if you wanted to become a professional footballer.”

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After a trial, a jury found Coleman guilty of four counts of indecent assault and one count of buggery, charges which would now be equivalent to rape.

Dean Kennedy

Dean Kennedy

Both of Kennedy’s victims waited years for justice, and displayed ‘incredible bravery’ in seeing it through.

Kennedy, 55, was locked up for nine years after the abuse of two girls, which happened 15 years apart, was laid bare.

He first abused a girl in the early 1990s, then 15 years later began to abuse another girl.

Kennedy, was described as ‘alcoholic waster’ during the 1980s and 1990s, when he abused the first victim.

He later made a turning point’ in his life, and stopped drinking.

But he went on to abuse another girl years later.

Kennedy, of Shiredale Drive, Harpurhey, shook his head in the dock as he was locked up in November last year.

He was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault; six counts of sexual activity with a child; two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity; and sexual assault.

After the hearing, Brett Gerrity, senior crown prosecutor at CPS North West said: “Both victims described the devastating affect the abuse has had on their lives and how their childhoods had been stolen by him.

“Thanks to the incredible bravery of these women in giving evidence against their abuser, Dean Kennedy will not be able to subject any more children to the abuse they suffered.”

Mark North

Mark Edward North

North abused two boys in the 1990s and was eventually locked up more than two decades later.

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One victim, a 14-year-old schoolboy, met North while playing truant from school in Manchester city centre.

North, then in his 30s, invited the boy back to his city center flat where he encouraged the boy to perform sex acts in return for cigarettes and CDs.

The abuse happened on multiple occasions over a year.

North approached a second victim who was also playing truant.

He was invited back to North’s flat where he would perform sex acts on the boy in exchange for cigarettes – a pattern of abuse which he would carry on for two years.

After a trial, North was found guilty of nine counts of indecent assault on a male under the age of 16, in relation to incidents which occurred between 1996 and 1998.

Earlier this month, he was jailed for seven years.

Keith Spence

Keith Spence

‘Monster’ Keith Spence was told he deserved ‘everything that’s coming to him’ after he faced justice.

Spence, from Salford, eventually admitted to police officers that he was a ‘f****** nonce’.

He had shown the girl pornography to ‘train’ her in sexual acts to perform on him.

The horrendous abuse came to light more recently after he made ‘inappropriate comments’ to another girl.

Spence tried to buy that child’s silence by giving her cigarettes.

Branding him a ‘monster’, the woman, who was abused in the late 2000s and early 2010s and is now in her 30s, said: “This man has made an impact on my life and only now I see the dots all join together.

“It never used to make sense to me.

“He deserves everything that’s coming to him.”

In October last year, he was jailed for 14 years after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, one count of sexually assaulting a child under 13 by penetration, causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, two counts of sexually assaulting a child, one count of sexually assaulting a child by penetration, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and two counts of causing or inciting a child into sexual activity.

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Martin Thorley

Martin Thorley

Remorseless Thorley repeatedly raped and assaulted a girl.

Thorley was a teenager when he sexually abused the girl, when she was aged between 3 and 11.

He would take the victim to the bathroom or his bedroom and abuse her, and then take her downstairs and give her ‘sweets and ice cream’.

Decades later, Thorley, now 45, faced justice.

“I remember watching a crime program when I was eight and seeing a kid in court and thinking: “One day I’m taking you to court”,” said the victim, who is now in her 30s.

She told of her ‘overwhelming’ relief that he has been locked up.

“At the end of the day I can have all the therapy in the world, but I have had the power to stop him from doing this to someone else for the foreseeable future,” she said.

“I hope the beast enjoys prison.”

Thorley, from Sale, was found guilty of two offenses of indecent assault and three offenses of rape.

In November last year, he was jailed for 17 years.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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