Victim of paedophile ex-Labour councillor faces abuser in court

A victim of a pervert former councillor has called him a ‘horrific paedophile’ as he faced him in court after living with the burden of shocking abuse for half a century.

Thomas Wright, who was Labour councillor for Sunderland’s Pennywell Ward for 18 years, committed vile acts involving four children under the age of 16.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the now 67-year-old violated both male and female children between 1968 and 1982.

Thomas Wright, 67, who was Labour councillor for Sunderland’s Pennywell Ward for 18 years, committed vile acts involving four children under the age of 16

Christopher Rose, prosecuting said that the offences involved Wright making his victims masturbate him and penetrative sexual activity.

Mr Rose described one victim’s experience in which Wright taunted her with a teddy bear called Andy, who she was allowed to play with only if she did as she was told.

Mr Rose said that Wright had been interviewed by police three times between 2018 and 2019.

In his first interview ‘he denied the allegation and denied having any sexual interest in males.’

Two of Wright’s victims read their victim impact statements to the court in person.

One victim said: ‘From a very young age I have known you to be a child sexual predator.

‘From the moment you told me not to tell anyone, otherwise we would both get into trouble, I have had to carry that burden for 50 years. 

‘You robbed me of ever having children as I feared, wrongly in my case, that the abused would become the abuser.

‘I was too young to make sense of what you were doing to me at the time. ‘I grew up living in confusion and emotional pain.’

He said Wright had committed ‘evil and despicable acts’ and that he had robbed him of the chance to tell the court and the wider world his truth.

He added: ‘I now hope that the world will see you as you truly are – a horrific paedophile – and others who have been abused will find the courage to come  forward and tell their truth.’

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the now 67-year-old violated both male and female children between 1968 and 1982

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the now 67-year-old violated both male and female children between 1968 and 1982

Another victim said: ‘I know I have hidden myself behind this mask for a long time, 30 plus years since my abuse.

‘I wanted to come forward about the abuse by Tommy Wright but I felt no-one would believe me.

‘For years I thought no-one would believe me.

‘I was afraid of men, I couldn’t trust them and this ruined my relationship with my father.

‘I commend him for pleading guilty which means we, his victims, don’t have to go through the trauma of a trial.’

Mr Rose read two other victim impact statements out to the court. 

One victim said: ‘From a very young age I have known you to be a child sexual predator.

‘From the moment you told me not to tell anyone, otherwise we would both get into trouble, I have had to carry that burden for 50 years.

‘You robbed me of ever having children as I feared, wrongly in my case, that the abused would become the abuser.

‘I was too young to make sense of what you were doing to me at the time.

‘I grew up living in confinement and emotional pain.’

He said Wright had committed ‘evil and despicable acts’ and that he had robbed him of the chance to tell the court and the wider world his truth.

He added: ‘I now hope that the world will see you as you truly are – a horrific paedophile – and others who have been abused will find the courage to come forward and tell their truth.’

Another victim said: ‘I know I have hidden myself behind this mask for a long time, 30 plus years since my abuse.

‘I wanted to come forward about the abuse by Tommy Wright but I felt no-one would believe me.

‘For years I thought no-one would believe me.

‘I was afraid of men, I couldn’t trust them and this ruined my relationship with my father.

‘I commend him for pleading guilty which means we, his victims, don’t have to go through the trauma of a trial.’

Mr Rose read two other victim impact statements out to the court.

One victim said: ‘I have never been able to talk about the abuse with anyone. I was so ashamed.

‘I was trying to suppress the guilt. I was feeling worthless and unloveable.’

Another victim said: ‘When I was younger this abuse made me fearful of men.

‘I felt vulnerable. I feel there should be justice done. I am so glad I have had this opportunity to tell what happened to me and get Tommy Wright the punishment he deserves.’

Wright, of Consett, County Durham, pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault against a male, two counts of indecent assault against a female and three counts of committing serious sexual offences against a male.

Liam O’Brien, defending said: ‘Nothing I do say or possibly could say is intended to diminish or trivialise the impact of the defendant’s offending.’

Mr O’Brien said that Wright had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and that given they were historical sex offences, sentences that would have been passed contemporaneously would have been lower and this should be taken into account.

He also said that these offences were committed when Wright was between the ages of 15 and 29 and asked the judge to consider the lack of maturity he would have had when he was younger.

Mr O’Brien said: ‘His victims have suffered in silence for years, whilst the defendant has been able to go about his life in an ordinary fashion.

‘Nonetheless, it is a factor that ought to be taken into account.’

He said that Wright had served his local community, as a Labour councillor for 18 years and as chairman of the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority.

Mr O’Brien said Wright is morbidly obese, uses crutches and has had back and heart problems ‘the effect of all of this is that he struggles with his day to day life.’

He asked the judge to consider the impact of the defendant’s incarceration on his family and said: ‘He has created the situation and he deserves to be punished but they do not.’

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