A RESPECTED businessman who ran a martial arts class for children has been jailed for raping a young girl.
Bruce Heffer was described in court as a pillar of the community.
But behind the public facade the 54-year-old was a paedophile who twice abused a girl under the age of 13.
Today he is waking up at the start of a six-year jail term.
Married Heffer ran his own house building company and was a jujitsu instructor in Fareham and Gosport for 30 years.
James Newton-Price, defending, said his company racked up debts of £2.5m and he began drinking heavily before committing the offences.
‘He was to all appearances a decent family man, somebody who worked hard on his business who gave up his time for a martial arts club and took the failure of his business very badly.
‘He was subject to a number of pressures. I don’t put that forward as an excuse but it might go some way to explain why he was acting so out of character.’
He added: ‘He is deeply ashamed of what he has done.’
Heffer, formerly of Ellerslie Close, Fareham, moved to stay with his family in Bassingbourne, Hertfordshire, following his arrest.
He was caught after the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told a teacher about what had happened.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, two of sexual assault and one of sexual activity with a child following the offences last September and October.
Sentencing him Judge Sarah Munro QC said: ‘You have, throughout your adult life, worked hard and you have been a valued and valuable member of the local community, through your martial arts activities.
‘What changed you from that fine, upstanding member of society to the man who appears before me today is a question perhaps no-one can really answer.
‘Something of an answer seems to be that you allowed the pressures of your failing business to overwhelm you. You began to drink.
‘You embarked upon a course of conduct which has caused devastating and lasting damage. Only you are responsible for all of that. It was you and you alone who caused all of this.’
Referring to his victim Judge Munro said: ‘It will affect her for the rest of her life. One can only hope that time will heal.’
Heffer will be on the sex offenders’ register for life and was banned from working with children.