A man who was sexually abused as a child and finally got justice 40 years later is encouraging other victims to speak out to get abusers “off the street”.
Stephen Lewsey, now 51, was just 10 years old when he began working at a repair shop in Crawley, West Sussex, and was sexually abused by his boss for several years in the 1980s.
The father-of-five kept the abuse a “dirty secret” until he confided in his wife in 2011, sparking a police investigation.
Thirteen years later, after an international manhunt for his abuser, who had moved to Sweden, and a trial at Chichester Crown Court, Mr Lewsey saw Glenn Langrish jailed on Friday February 2 for the historic crimes.
He wants to encourage potential further victims of Langrish, or anyone else, to come forward.
Speaking to PA news agency, the bus driver said: “There’ll be a lot of scepticism, people thinking that they won’t be believed. This is a historic crime. There was no hard evidence as such. It was essentially my word against his.
“But obviously there’s specific details in there that convinced the police to take me seriously, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) (to) take me seriously – my wife obviously believed me, my family supported me – but ultimately to convince 12 jurors in an hour-and a half that on eight charges he was guilty.
“So, have faith. Have hope. Don’t be afraid to speak out. Don’t let these people break you … Be the stronger person, speak out and get these people, get justice served.”
Langrish, now 74, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with a further three years on extended licence for four counts of indecency with a child and four counts of indecent assault on a child.
Recalling the moment the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty on all eight charges, Mr Lewsey said: “I cried. I was elated, absolutely elated.
“As the jurors filed out, they all looked up at me in the public gallery. I mouthed the words ‘Thank you’ to them, because they believed me, they’ve seen the truth.”
“I struggled, I was emotional in court. It was tough. But the way I’m coping with it is I’m taking control of the situation, not him,” he said.
“I wanted to read my victim impact statement – the barrister offered to read it out. I wanted to look him (Langrish) in the face while I read that out, so that he knows, he knows he hasn’t broken me, and I’m a far better human being than he has ever been and ever will be.”
Mr Lewsey described how the abuse had affected his life, including pushing close friends away because he felt he could not trust them, being overprotective of his children, and being “short- fused” over “the smallest things, little triggers for me”.
However, now the case has concluded, he wants to rebuild his life, such as by getting counselling.
“I am a different person now,” he said.
“Even just after the case than I was before the case, I’m far, far more chilled.
“I don’t get cross at things as easy. I’m rebuilding some friendships that I’ve cut off through my actions. So, just think doing things more positive.”
Mr Lewsey admitted the process was “not easy” and he has had “wobbles” over the years as it seemed to take forever, but praised the police and his wife for encouraging him to carry on.
He also believes “times have changed” because one of the sex offences carried a maximum penalty of two years in jail under law in the 1980s, compared with the same crime now carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
“The justice system is far from perfect, but, you know, it’s an improvement,” Mr Lewsey said.
“I think two years for what he did, it’s not right, you know, but, ultimately, it’s tallied up, so now I’m more than satisfied with the sentence.”