A VICTIM of a North- East sex offender broke her silence today as her abuser began a nine-year jail sentence.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told how she had suffered nightmares and panic attacks for 50 years after the abuse she received as a child at the hands of pervert Clarence Underwood on Wearside.
Underwood, now 70, is beginning his nine-year sentence after confessing to six specimen charges of sexual assault.
His victim said: “I have lived in fear of him for almost 50 years and last night, for the first time in my life, I slept with the light off. I’ve had nightmares and panic attacks all these years. But today it all ends.”
Underwood ensured his victim’s silence by telling the then young Sunderland schoolgirl that she was to blame and issuing sinister threats.
She said: “When I was about eightyears old he took me to the Queen Alexandra Bridge, dangled me over and warned me, if I told, he would drop me over.”
Decades later, the woman, finally found the courage to break her silence but. when confronted by detectives in 2012, Underwood branded her a malicious liar.
But before the case got to trial, the now 70-year-old confessed.
The woman said: “Up until this point, I’ve lived my life in fear. Now I’m not afraid any more and it’s a lovely feeling.
“I couldn’t even go to court to face him because I’d been so scared.
“Now, I feel nothing about him; he’s dead to me.
“Even after everything that’s happened, he’s never acknowledged what he did or tried to apologise for it.”
Newcastle Crown Court heard how Underwood had “stolen” the victim’s childhood.
Judge Jeremy Freedman told him: “That is the reality. You took away her childhood.
“You exacerbated the situation by maintaining denials right up to the last moment so she had to face the prospect of giving evidence in court and through your lawyer being called a liar.
“For everything you did you blamed her, saying it was her fault and issued threats.”
The victim told police she had not initially realised what Underwood was doing was wrong.
Prosecutor Jonathan Devlin said: “The defendant would tell her it was her fault. She felt ashamed of herself, she had problems sleeping, felt different from other children.”
The victim said the traumatic memories of what happened to her affected her whole adult life and ruined her marriage.
The court heard Underwood, who later moved to Liverpool, has not been in trouble since the offences and is in poor health.
He must sign the sex offender’s register and abide by the terms of a sexual offences prevention order for the rest of his life.