Sex victim was repeatedly attacked by ‘family friend’

Allan Atkinson who has been jailed for eight years
Allan Atkinson who has been jailed for eight years

One of the victims of a pervert jailed for historical sexual offences has revealed how the former family friend groomed his two victims and betrayed their trust.

And he hopes other victims of abuse will come forward after he helped remove a paedophile from the resort’s streets.

Families are safer with him locked up

The man, whose identity The Gazette is protecting, was one of two boys subjected to repeated sexual assaults by Allan Atkinson in the 1970s.

Atkinson, 61, of Daventry Avenue, Bispham, was jailed for eight years having been found guilty of the attacks on the pair who were aged 10 and 13 at the time.

Today one of those victims told The Gazette how he waited decades to come forward – despite his mother raising concerns in the immediate aftermath of the assaults.

He also told how Atkinson had groomed his victims and taken advantage of a family in crisis.

“We were never aware,” one of Atkinson’s two victims, now in his 50s, told The Gazette.

“We were young children.

“We had a difficult family life. My dad was a bit of a tyrant.

“This was a guy who came into my life through a friend of the family and gave us support.

“He groomed us in such a way that we went along with it.

“We were groomed, I’ve no doubts.

“And it was a sophisticated method of grooming two boys.”

Atkinson took advantage of his victims’ backgrounds, treating them to the kinds of experiences they would never get in their day-to-day lives.

“He’d take us on days out, to the Lake District, I remember him taking us to a motor show.

“We were from a poor background, these were things we weren’t used to.

“But he’s betrayed the trust we put into him.”

Once Atkinson had won over the two boys, he was able to exploit them for his own sexual purposes–- repeated crimes which went undiscovered and unpunished for decades.

Atkinson finally stood trial at Preston Crown Court this year more than 40 years after the offences he committed in Blackpool.

And it was partly through the determination of his victims that he was finally brought to justice.

“I moved on years ago,” Atkinson’s victim told The Gazette.

“I got on with my life and so has the other victim.

“I’ve been married, had children. I haven’t let if affect my life but I know others aren’t so lucky.

“I’m very happy with the result, with what has happened in the courts.

“With historical offences the sentences tend to be shorter so this is a good result.

“But I do feel there may now be more people who come forward.”

Being a father and now a grandfather was the catalyst which led him to reveal the shocking memories after so long to the authorities

“One of the main reasons for bringing the case was child protection,” said the victim who approached the police more than a quarter of a century after the alleged offences were committed.

“That’s something that sparked me into action.

“I’ve been at this for nearly a decade now.

“I first approched the police in 2007.

“My mum had gone to the police when the abuse finished in 1975.

“At the time I kicked off because she’d told the police, I ran away.

“That was the effect it had.

“When I went back to the police all the records from back then were no longer available.

“Then when Operation Yew Tree stories started emerging and bringing these kind of things out of the woodwork I thought about going back again.

“Another case, involving a family friend who ended up going to prison, showed me this kind of conviction is possible.

“I was apprehensive about it.

“I was embarrassed of failure.

“The police and the Crown Prosecution Service were fantastic – this wouldn’t have been possible without their persistence and belief.

“They have become friends to us.”

And with Atkinson behind bars, his victim feels Blackpool is a safer place.

“I feel that families are safer,” he said.

“We have taken one paedophile out of the area.

“And hopefully we have also encouraged other people subjected to this kind of grooming and abuse to come forward.”

It’s a view echoed by investigating officer DC Alan Gale, who spoke out following Atkinson’s sentencing hearing at Preston Crown Court last Friday.

He said: “Atkinson used his position as a family friend to groom his two young victims and took advantage of their vulnerability, subjecting them to appalling sexual abuse over a prolonged period of time.

“I am pleased that he has been brought to justice for his crimes and I hope the fact that he has now been sentenced will enable the victims to move forward with their lives.

“This case demonstrates how seriously we take allegations of sexual abuse, regardless of how long ago the offences took place.

“We are determined to bring perpetrators of abuse before the courts while ensuring that victims are treated with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism throughout.

“We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence to come forward and contact us.”