September 2019

Concealing a ‘dark and ugly secret’ – from town stalwart to convicted sex offender

“An outwardly decent member of society concealing a dark and ugly secret.”

That is how Shane Vertigan was described by a judge the day he was put behind bars for six years.

The 49-year-old from Whitelands in Fakenham had denied eight charges of abusing a schoolgirl.

But on Friday, a jury at Norwich Crown Court found him guilty of six offences of sexually assaulting a girl between the ages of 13 and 15, more than a decade ago.

A seemingly upstanding member of his community, Vertigan previously worked as a police community support officer (PCSO) in Fakenham for a number of years.

Vertigan also worked in the custody office at Bethel Street Police Station in Norwich for five years, and then, in 1997, he was appointed traffic warden for Fakenham, Holt and Walsingham.

He became known as the ‘singing traffic warden’ and also sang for a Salvation Army band, a charity he was a member of.

Vertigan had a long association with Hindringham Football Club, and has held positions including, most recently, chairman. He is also a qualified football referee.

At his sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, judge David Goodin said he had been “an outwardly decent member of society concealing a dark and ugly secret.”

He described how Vertigan had become obsessed with the girl, who was more than 20 years his junior, and had used grooming behaviour “to get her to where he wanted her to be.”

He said the sexual assaults included Vertigan touching her genital area.

The court heard how, years later, the victim had been deeply affected by what had happened.