Child abuser jailed for assaults nearly 40 years after his crimes

A WOMAN abused from the age of six has told a court how she feels she has ‘never felt like a woman’ and that she sees herself in a ‘little girl’s body’.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spoke out at Portsmouth Crown Court as Mark Benfield was jailed for the abuse.

Benfield was found guilty of nine charges of indecent assault and three of indecency with a child at a trial.

Benfield, 56, of Hill Road, Fareham, who has acquitted of charges relating to three other women, was jailed for four years for the string of assaults.

Speaking in court the victim said: ‘This is how I have been affected by the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of Mark Benfield.

‘I have had flashbacks, these have led to panic attacks.’

She added: ‘I feel dirty, I wash a lot... I cry myself to sleep.’

She said at night she fears someone coming into her bedroom and has ‘no confidence in myself’. She said: ‘I’ve never felt like a woman. I also felt my body was a little girl’s body.’

She watched as Benfield, who was aged between 18 and 22 when he carried out the repeated abuse, was jailed by a judge who told him the jail term would be in ‘double figures’ if he had committed the crimes now.

The victim added: ‘What happened has left me feeling worthless.’

Judge Stephen Climie said Benfield had lived his life without his family knowing of the abuse, adding: ‘There was a sinister background to which (his wife) was never to know about.’

Judge Climie said it was only Benfield’s age at the time, his immaturity then and his good character now that made the jail terms on the 12 counts concurrent not consecutive.

Hannah Duncan, for Benfield, said he had ‘changed unrecognisably’ and that when the victim asked him to stop abusing her, he did so.

‘She said “yes I don’t want to do this anymore” and it stopped, and it never happened again,’ Ms Duncan said.

Detective Constable Mike Strangeway said the woman had shown ‘courage’ since reporting the crimes.

He said: ‘I hope it gives people courage to come forward and that the police will treat them openly and they will be listened to and with compassion. If you’ve been affected by any aspect of this case please feel free to contact Victim Support or the police on 101.’