South Shields street cleaner jailed for three years for historic sex attacks on young boys

Hanson was jailed for three years and will have to sign the sex offenders' register for life.
Hanson was jailed for three years and will have to sign the sex offenders' register for life.

A popular street cleaner’s secret past as a predatory paedophile was exposed when his victims broke their 40-year silence.

Graham Hanson, 53, who tidied the pavements of South Shields for more than two decades, is now behind bars for a series of sex attacks on boys as young as four in the 1970s.

This was not juvenile experimentation, it was intimidating, predatory sexual behaviour, serious sexual assaults.

Judge Tim Gittins

Newcastle Crown Court heard his three victims’ lives have been blighted by their horrifying experiences at Hanson’s hands, which they say will haunt them forever.

One victim said in his impact statement: “I can remember being terrified, screaming, when he was actually abusing me. It didn’t make him stop.”

Another victim told police: “He was so much bigger and stronger than me. I was helpless to stop what was happening.”

The third victim said in his statement: “I didn’t know what he was doing to me at the time.

“Only when I got older I realised what he was doing to me was wrong.

“I didn’t understand what was happening to me because I was so young. I am sickened by it now.”

The court heard Hanson, of Coppergate Court, Hebburn, who admitted six specimen charges of indecent assault, was aged between 13 and 18 when he carried out the sickening attacks.

Judge Tim Gittins said he must sentence Hanson in accordance with the law as it was at the time of the offences, when the offender was a teenager.

He jailed the married dad for three years.

Judge Gittins told him: “It is clear you didn’t desist, you didn’t stop despite their obvious distress and calls for help.

“This was not juvenile experimentation, it was intimidating, predatory sexual behaviour, serious sexual assaults.

“The message need to go out, if it has not already, that there is no hiding place for abusers.

“Whether it is in the days, months or years that follow from their behaviour, it will catch up with them, as it caught up with you, when victims have the courage to come forward.”

Hanson was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order for life.

The court heard one of the attacks had been reported to the police at the time, but it was put down to an isolated incident and nothing further was done.

Prosecutor Alec Burns told the court Hanson would carry out the attacks at public places such as allotments or parks.

Peter Schofield, defending, said Hanson has been in no further trouble since he carried out the attacks and went on to lead an “unremarkable” life with a wife and children.

Mr Schofield said: “Through me, for what happened, he does apologise for his actions when he was in his teens.”

Hanson handed in a stack of testimonials from family and friends about his positive character.

Mr Schofield said Hanson will struggle with life in prison and his family will struggle without him.

He added: “His absence will be sorely felt.”