April 2008

Justice at last for rape victim

A PAEDOPHILE who abused his young cousin for over a five-year period has finally been jailed.

James Birch-Greaves, aged 44, of Cleveleys Avenue, Widnes, was sentenced to five years behind bars at Chester Crown Court for the repeated attempted rape and indecent assault of Nicola Sutcliffe between 1979 and 1984 when she was a child.

Nicola, now aged 34, of Upton, Widnes, said: “I am absolutely delighted. It was a bit emotional having to send Jimmy to prison after so long, but if he was given one year it would have been good enough for me.

“When I first made the statement there was no turning back, but the whole process has given me confidence and has even turned my life around. I know now that I had to do it.

“It has been dealt with now and my kids and myself can finally move on.”

The court was told how the pervert began the attacks when he moved in with her parents. He was aged 16. She was only six years old.

“He used to babysit for us when my parents went out,” Nicola, who waived her right to anonymity, said.

Birch-Greaves was also found guilty of indecently assaulting Nicola’s friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, during a sleepover when she was nine years old.

He was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely and disqualified from working with children.

DC Jon Wilson, who led the investigation, praised Nicola’s courage for reporting the abuse to police.

“Coming forward after all these years was a tremendously brave thing to do,” he said.

“The impact of the abuse on her was huge. It was always going to be difficult for her bringing either case to court due to the nature of the offences and time lapsed.

“Hopefully the courage shown by Nicola in this case will encourage other victims to make contact with police.”

Nicola, who is studying to become a social worker at Edge Hill University, is now hoping to help others.

“I found it difficult to find information and advice about my problems, but I want people who have suffered abuse to know that they are not alone,” she said.

“It is important that everyone who has suffered at the hands of these sorts of people know they can talk to someone about it.

“If they want me to, I will stand by them at court and do all I can to help.”