20-year jail term for Liskeard sex offender
"I HAVE been waiting all my life for this."
Those are the harrowing words of the victim of a prolific sex offender after she saw him jailed for 20 years for 26 different offences spanning a 40-year period.
David Charles Hugh, 64, who was living in Liskeard at the time of his arrest, was described by Judge David Ticehurst as a paedophile and a pervert who had shown no remorse for his actions.
Following the trial, one of his victims spoke about his horrific crimes in a bid to help encourage other victims to speak out against sexual violence.
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She said she was pleased with the verdict and can now look forward to the future.
"I have been waiting all my life for this," she said.
"Now I can move on knowing that he's going to be behind bars for a very long time. He's not going to come to my door and harass me and my children."
She said the abuse she suffered as a child has affected every part of her life.
"He abused me between the ages of 8 and 16. He made my life a misery when I was little but I never told anybody – I just kept quiet.
"He used to bribe and threaten me and when you're 8 or 9 you believe it. He used to say things like 'it's our little secret' and 'don't tell anybody'.
"When you're little you don't know what's right or wrong.
"I got to my teens and started to realise I'm a bit different from everybody else. I became quite withdrawn and was quite a quiet child – I never used to speak to anybody.
"Over the years I have had depressive thoughts about doing something to end it all. I'm not ashamed to say that is how it has made me feel at some points in my life.
"It gets embedded in your head that he's going to come and get you."
Twenty years after enduring Hugh's attacks, she discovered that he had also offended against other women. This triggered her to come forward and report the offences to the police.
"Every day of my life I was thinking about him and what he had done to me.
"I was offered to go to the police six or seven years ago when I first went through counselling but I thought it would just be my word against his.
"In 2011 I found out that he had abused someone else and I felt a bit stronger so I went to the police and was asked to make a statement.
"She [the other victim] had never told anybody either. It makes me wonder was there anyone else?
"I keep thinking someone's going to come forward when they see he did this to me too."
Two years ago she sought advice from a support group called Twelves Company, based in Plymouth.
"They were brilliant. I couldn't have done it without them," she said.
She received support and guidance from an independent sexual violence adviser (ISVA) during the investigation and trial. She also gave evidence via video link so she didn't have to see her abuser in court.
"It's the scariest thing I have ever done. I couldn't eat for days. I thought I was going to be sick before I gave evidence.
"But safety measures were put in place. I gave my evidence by video link and I was briefed by the police and my adviser on what kind of questions they might ask me.
"I got lots of support but nothing prepares you and how it makes you feel to stand up to someone that I never thought I'd be able to stand up to."
A jury of nine women and three men spent just two hours in retirement before returning a unanimous verdict.
Hugh, who must sign the sex offenders' register for the rest of his life, was convicted at Truro Crown Court of 17 charges of rape, six of indecent assault, and two of gross indecency with a child and he had pleaded guilty earlier to two other serious matters. The charges against him spanned between 1962 and 1998.
He was acquitted of one charge of indecent assault and one of gross indecency with a child.
Detective Constable Donna Jordan, who works for the sexual offences investigation team in Plymouth, was the leading officer in the case.
She said: "We are very pleased with the outcome. Historic cases are always difficult and they often come down to one person's word against another.
"It makes it hard for us to prove but in this case all three witnesses were strong.
"I hope that anybody who hears about the case can see that the police do take allegations seriously. We investigate them and we will prosecute wherever we can."
DC Jordan said the number of historic cases being reported is rising.
"The Jimmy Savile case has increased reporting in Devon and Cornwall. It gives people courage," she said.
She urged any victims to come forward regardless of when the offences took place.
"It doesn't matter if it happened 10, 20 or 40 years ago, we will investigate it," she said.
Now the trial is over the victim said she can begin to move on and wants to help others who have suffered abuse.
"It's made me think that I want to go on and help people like me who have been going through what I've been through. It doesn't make me a pro but if I can make it easier for someone else I will.
"If people do decide to come forward and report someone to the police the help is there. It's definitely worth it."
She now hopes to put the past behind her.
"I couldn't have asked for a better result. As far as I'm concerned, he doesn't exist anymore. It's over."