A ‘COWARDLY’ abuser from Kingsteignton whose sexual assaults condemned his victim to a life of mental torment has been told that his is likely to die in prison.

Gordon Suckley molested his victim repeatedly when he was aged 11 to 16 and growing up in Helston, Cornwall, causing him severe psychological damage.

The boy only found the courage to go to the police almost 50 years later when he was an adult in his 50s and was still in touch with his abuser.

He used Facebook messages to remind Suckley of what he had done to him in the 1970s and received partial admissions in reply, which encouraged him to go to the police.

Suckley, aged 87, of Kings Court, Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot, admitted seven counts of indecent assault dating between 1976 and 1981 and was jailed for seven years and six months by JudgeDavid Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

The judge told him that his crimes would now be classified as rape and that his refusal to pleadguilty until the day before his trial had been ‘cowardly’.

He told him: ‘It is abundantly clear to me that your offences caused the victim not just severe butextreme life-long psychological harm.

‘You poisoned the environment which should have been a sanctuary for a child.

‘I recognise the mpossibility that you may not survive your sentence.

‘Although youeventually admitted abusing the victim in Facebook messages after he challengedyou repeatedly, you initially pleaded not guilty.

‘It is difficult to conclude you are genuinely remorseful. Your behaviour is best characterised ascowardly.’

Mr Rowan Jenkins,prosecuting, said the offences started when the boy was 11 and Suckley was inhis 40s and both were living in Helston.

Suckley exerted such a psychological grip over the boy that he continued to abuse him even after he grew up and went to university.

Mr Ramsay Quaife, defending, said Suckley had lived a blameless life before and since and nowappreciates the damage he has done.

He said: ‘He is 87 and in poor health. The blunt truth is that his age and his health will enablehim to complete the sentence which you are about to pass.’

Victim tells of relief after abuser jailed

The victim spoke of his relief after attending the sentencing hearing in a statement releasedthrough the investigating officer. 

He said: ‘I am grateful to Devon & Cornwall Police for the opportunity to share myfeelings. 

‘The man sentenced today repeatedly subjected me to terrible abuse when I was a child. Thephysical, mental, and sexual abuse was itself very traumatic, but I also suffered overwhelming feelings of self-blame, shame, guilt, fear, loneliness, and secrecy.

‘I have struggled ever since with mental illness, tormented thoughts, and feelings; so manyunanswered questions and so much pain that I haven’t yet been able to face.

‘But today is an important step in my journey of self-repair. Two years ago, supported by myfamily and friends, I found the courage to phone the police and say I’d been abused. 

‘Throughout their investigation, the detectives’ compassion and professionalism enabled me to share my story with them.

‘I found my voice. My voice was heard, and the truth is now known. Justice has prevailed. It is neverok for anyone to abuse any child. No-one has the right to steal a child’s rights.’

Courage and strength of victim praised

Detective Sergeant Ed Bird, from Public Protection Unit in South Devon, said: ‘We wouldlike to commend the incredible courage and strength of the victim who was subjected to prolonged and repeated sexual abuse for many years, which was subsequently followed by decades of trauma and torment. 

‘The conviction and sentence are welcomed by the police and will offer some comfort to thevictim who has finally obtained justice.

‘We hope this sentence will also provide reassurance to other victims of sexual offending tohelp give them the confidence to report to us.

‘No matter who is involved or when it happened, we will do whatever is in our power to bringoffenders to justice, protect and support survivors, and enable the truth to be uncovered about these terrible crimes even if decades lie between the offences taking place and justice prevailing.’


Anyone who may have been affected by anything raised in this article can contact police in their local area by emailing [email protected] calling 101.

The freephone NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000 is available for anyone to report or seek advice about non-recent abuse. Calls can be made anonymously.