July 2011

Child-sex pervert ‘worse than a monster’

EVIL Ernest Hennigan left “a trail of utter devastation” as he sexually abused two young girls.

But the paedophile is now beginning a lengthy spell behind bars after the horrific extent of his crimes against the victims – aged just four and eight at the time – was revealed.

Hennigan was this week jailed for at least six years at Newcastle Crown Court – but the 59-year-old was warned he may never be released.

The pervert forced the girls to perform sex acts on him, made them watch him performing sex acts and made videos of the acts taking place.

Almost 2,000 photographs and DVDs of child pornography were also found at his home.

The children visited his home, in Derby Street, Jarrow, to play computer games and would return with treats, including sweets and money.

The former road sweeper last month admitted five counts of raping a child, two of engaging a child in sexual activity, five on making sexual images of a child, one of possessing sexual images of a child and one of indecently assaulting a child.

He returned to court this week to be sentenced, and was jailed for 12 years, though he must serve at least six before parole is even considered.

However, Judge John Evans handed him an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), meaning unless the parole board is completely satisfied he is no longer a threat to children, he will never be released.

The 59-year-old’s convictions go back to 1980, when he was given a two-year conditional discharge for inciting a child to commit gross indecency.

The victims’ mothers told the Gazette of the devastation Hennigan caused their families.

One said: “My child is in a mess and her eyes are dead. This has affected the entire family. My beautiful, innocent daughter has gone forever.”

Another mother branded him as “worse than a monster”.

The woman was at Newcastle Crown Court to see Hennigan jailed, and is pleased with the sentence.

She said: “My family has gone through hell because of this pervert – all of our lives have been ruined.”

Her daughter, now five, started to visit Hennigan when she was four.

She said children would often drop by his house, and she thought nothing of allowing her daughter to play with him until she heard he had been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting another youngster.

She added: “We thought he was just a genuine, friendly man. When I heard he had been arrested, my blood ran cold. I don’t know what it was, but I knew straight away he abused my child.

“It was instinct, I knew it, but I had the terrible job of asking her about it.

“I couldn’t believe it. The things he made these girls do is shocking. He’s a monster, in fact monster is too good a term for him.

“In my opinion, jail is too good for him, but what he got today was the longest sentence that was possible.

“To hear that he might never get out is good. I’m happy with that.”