A woman who waited nearly three decades to see her abuser brought to justice has urged other potential victims in Bridlington to be brave and come forward.
Dawn Wilson has waived her right to anonymity to speak out after Gordon Tidswell was jailed for 22 years for a catalogue of abuse and rape against her and three other complainants.
Tidswell, 63, a former Calderdale binman and ice cream seller, was found guilty following a trial of 16 indecent assault charges, three rapes and two allegations of attempted rape.
Tidswell, who had been living with his wife in Bridlington, now faces years behind bars and his barrister Simeon Evans suggested that his health problems may mean his client did not see the end of his sentence.
Judge David Hatton QC said Tidswell’s offending had spanned more than 20 years and all his victims had been very young girls at the time.
The court heard that Tidswell raped two of the girls and carried out other sexual abuse while giving the complainants piggybacks or telling one of them that he was checking her knickers for “worms”.
Miss Wilson, who was indecently assaulted by Tidswell, first reported her abuse when she was about 16, but she had to wait another 26 years to see him jailed.
She said she was elated after the sentence had been passed and urged people in similar circumstances to come forward.
“You have to be brave, but come forward,” she said.
She said the court process was tough and time-consuming, but she said she could not praise the police officers involved in her case highly enough.
“Now I can move on,” she added.
“I can shut that door, bolt it and move on.”
Sentencing Tidswell Judge Hatton said the defendant had the affrontery to tell one of his rape victims that he was “preparing her” and doing her a favour.
“Each of your victims suffered emotionally and psychologically at the time,” the judge told Tidswell.
“I have not the slightest doubt from what I saw of them and from what I read in their statements that they continue to suffer.
“You took advantage of their vulnerability without the slightest care and without the slightest bit of remorse.
“You irreparably removed from each of them the innocence and joy of childhood for your perverted gratification.
“You doubtless thought you could get away with it. You probably believed you had got away with it, but you haven’t.”
Tidswell will register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and he will also be subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order which bans any unsupervised contact with youngsters in the future.