BRAVE victims have spoken out after a pervert was jailed for ten years for sexual offences against children in Harwich.

Derek Withers, 68 of Bowes Road, New Southgate, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on July 27 after being found guilty of offences against two children.

Withers was arrested in December 2020 after two victims bravely contacted Essex Police to report offences that took place between 2002 and 2020 in Harwich.

Following an investigation by the force’s Child Abuse Investigation Team, Withers was charged with indecent assault of a girl under 13, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child under 13 and assault of a girl under 13.

He denied the offences but was found guilty following a week-long trial.

The mother and father of one of the victims said the abuse was “devastating” for their family.

They said: “It is undecided whether our little girl can move forward and push this to the back of her mind and return to the happy little girl she used to be.

“We hope that one day with the support agencies we are taking our little girl to, we can move on and learn how to build trust in others again.”

One of the brave victims thanked the police and her adviser from the Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse.

They said: “I was petrified coming forward to the police, the first report I made was back in 2011 but my life was different then and I did not have the strength to go forward with it.

“The whole process has been challenging, but worth it.

“I would like to thank my adviser Claire, who has been absolutely amazing.

“She has been my rock and without her, this process would have been even more difficult to go through.

“I feel like this is the closure I need.

“Even though the thoughts will never go away and will live with me for the rest of my life, I can finally move on and be the strong woman I am today.”

Investigating officer, PC Shad Gulabkha, said: “This sentence is a direct result of the strength and bravery that these two victims have shown.

“The victims and their families have conducted themselves with such dignity and they should be so proud of themselves."