Paedophile ice cream man jailed

A PAEDOPHILE former ice cream van man from St Martin has been jailed for seven years by a UK court after being convicted of ‘truly life-changing’ sexual offences.

Guildford Crown Court (Gareth Fuller/PA) (31907246)
Guildford Crown Court (Gareth Fuller/PA) (31907246)

Geoffrey Welland (78) appeared in Guildford Crown Court to be sentenced for seven counts of indecent assault on a female under 14 years old and one count of gross indecency with a female under 14 years old.

The offences took place between 1967 and 1975 in Farnham and Aldershot in Hampshire and related to two girls who were aged under ten years old at the time.

Surrey police, the force investigating the crimes, said one of the victims initially came forward in April 2012 to report the abuse. She briefly dropped her complaint but came forward again in 2017 and, at that time, said she thought there might also be a second victim.

Officers said that following inquiries, it was found that Welland had subjected both girls to ‘systematic sexual abuse over a sustained period’.

These were not Welland’s only offences. In 2003 the then 60-year-old was sentenced in Jersey for indecently assaulting a teenage girl in 1977 on six occasions. He was aged 34 at the time.

However, he was spared jail after the Royal Court found that it was an ‘exceptional case’, that the incidents were ‘isolated’ and there was a low risk of him reoffending.

In a judgment published at the time, it said: ‘We can properly treat this as an exceptional case, not least having regard to the nature of the offences, which, whilst undoubtedly extremely upsetting for the victim, are not at the higher end of the sort of cases which the court very often has to deal with.’

He was instead sentenced to 240 hours’ community service.

Speaking following Welland’s sentencing on Thursday, Louise Andrews from Surrey police’s sexual offences investigation team said: ‘Welland preyed on these two young girls and subjected them to a sustained period of sexual abuse over several years. One of them finally found the courage to come forward and report what had happened and for this she must be commended. As soon as we were made aware of the allegations, we carried out a thorough investigation and ensured that both victims were provided with support from specially trained officers.’

She added: ‘The judge also commented that the offences Welland had committed were “truly life-changing” and a “very significant breach of trust which had caused severe psychological harm’’. This sentence sends a clear message that Surrey police will always investigate any report of sexual abuse, no matter how long it ago it occurred.’

An NSPCC Jersey spokesperson said: ‘Welland subjected two young children to years of pain and horror. This abuse has now come to light thanks to their bravery in coming forward, and we hope they are getting the support they need to move on with their lives.

‘Adults who wish to report abuse, no matter how long ago, or have concerns about a child, can phone the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk, while children can contact Childline any time on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk.’

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