A child rapist who abused young people in Derbyshire and Lincolnshire for over two decades has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty of 45 offences.
Andrew Mark Ditchfield, 54, was found guilty of 45 offences against 14 victims between 1992 and 2011, despite denying all charges against him in court back in August.
The offences began when Ditchfield started targeting young people in Derby in 1992, before going on to abuse them in houses, camp sites and leisure facilities.
He then moved to Lincolnshire in the early 2000s and continued his offending across the eastern part of the county.
Ditchfield was arrested at his home in Fourways, Tetney, Grimsby and remanded in custody in November 2020.
At Derby Crown Court on Friday, October 15, Andrew Mark Ditchfield, 54, was sentenced to 30 years in jail, with an extended license period of eight years.
The 14 victims, 12 boys and two girls, had to give evidence during the two-month trial at Derby Crown Court against the man who had caused immense suffering to them, with many dealing with PTSD, depression, and addictions after the incidents.
Their identities have been protected by law, and Derbyshire Police have praised the immense “resilience” of the survivors for standing in court to answer questions.
DS Ritchie Parkins, who led the investigation team, said: “That Ditchfield is now behind bars is because of the strength, character and resilience of the survivors of his abuse.
“His refusal to take any responsibility for the damage he wrought on these young people’s lives shows his utter disregard for anyone other than himself.
“To stand in court and give evidence against this man who has caused such hurt is humbling and I cannot speak highly enough of them.”
Survivors’ impact statements
Survivor A said: “My experience with Ditchfield certainly contributed to me having a criminal record. He led me down a certain path, a path where I did not want to go. I have anger issues. I have mental health issues and suffer terribly with depression.
“I don’t work. I have money problems and I struggle to leave the house and I have made many attempts to end my life.”
Survivor B: “I was vulnerable. I was living in a terrible home environment and Ditch took advantage of that. I never told anyone as I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I couldn’t talk about it and couldn’t share this with anyone.
“I am on medication for depression and anxiety and the worst thing about all of this is that Ditch has sat through this denying everything. he has such disregard for anyone and no regard for the lives he has ruined.
“I was dreading not being believed and that is why I have kept this dirty horrible secret all my life.”
Survivor C: “For years I locked away in a box the pain this abuse caused me, I never told a soul it’s something I thought would never come out or I’d be believed, I kept it from my family friends partner.
“I’ve been diagnosed with depression and also PTSD after having disturbing flashbacks of the abuse in my nightmares which took my right back to the moment.
“I went to some very dark places inside myself. There were thoughts around suicide, simply because I was so numb and torn down that I felt as though death would be no different. I lost my identity. I had no idea who I was anymore. I finally thought the world and my family would be better off without me, I drank and drank and drank until my body couldn’t take anymore combined with an overdose, fortunately I was found and helped in hospital.
“My way of coping is to drink beer, I’ve always drank to forget to try and ease the pain I’ve felt, this has been my way of feeling normal for many years.
“It’s hard to put into words about how the abuse effected me when I don’t know any other way of life, the fake smiles, the pretending I’m ok, hiding myself away when the tears are rolling down my face, but what kind of life is that?
“I’m hopeful today will be the start of the rest of the rest of my life, where I can finally leave all the pain, hurt, anger behind knowing justice has been served. I hope the other survivors here in this room today can start the rest of their lives today as well. We aren’t his victims – we are survivors.”
Survivor D: “After the assault I wasn’t really sure on what had actually happened, but the pain inside of me spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming and the self-doubt and blame I was feeling stopped me from turning to my friends and family at first. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone including myself.
“I lost my friends, my family, my dignity, my life. When the assault happened to me, I was a young boy. I repeat the word boy because, that is what I was. Now I am a young adult but I have been stuck in a holding pattern for most of my life. I have been unable to heal, unable to move forward. A person that lost his dignity and rights, because they were stolen by this man.
“This man has destroyed so many lives, left people with low self-esteem and fear. He hasn’t just affected his victims individually, he has broken their families and friendship circles. He has left a hole in all of victim’s lives that will never heal and never repair again. A time we can neither get back or change.
“Ditchfield stole my childhood, my hope and my future. This man robbed me of my health, my open nature and my trust in myself and others.”
One victim waived his right to a lifetime of anonymity to tell his story, and Oliver Flack said that Lincolnshire Police did not take his reports seriously when he told officers what Ditchfield had done to him in June 2010.
Oliver told Lincolnshire Live: “I was never believed before and Ditchfield had made my life a living hell. I was an emotional wreck, then the jury convicted him. It was fantastic that the jury believed me.
“It was not until September 2020 when two officers from Derbyshire Police found me. I want to thank Derbyshire Police for getting this to court. They helped me enormously.”