Hartlepool child sex abuser jailed for more than 20 years
A child sex abuser has been jailed for more than 20 years after his two male victims broke their silence decades later.
Mark Weldrake, 56, originally from Hartlepool, was arrested in August last year before pleading guilty to historic charges of rape and indecent assault.
At the time of their ordeals, Teesside Crown Court was told, his young Hartlepool victims feared they would not be believed.
Both men finally confided in their partners although it was some time later before they felt able to report him to the police.
Cleveland Police have now welcomed Weldrake’s “lengthy sentence” and said they hoped it would reassure victims that “it is never too late to report to police”.
Prosecutor Annie Richardson, read out a victim impact statement from one of his victims at Friday’s crown court sentencing hearing.
In it, he said: “Throughout most of my life I felt angry and depressed, and now I feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders
”I feel that if I had reported it sooner then nobody else would have been abused.
The other victim said in his own statement: ”I feel it hard to start conversations. I struggle to make eye contact and it has affected my life and my personal skills.”
Weldrake, lately of Alderwood, Coulby Newham, appeared at the Middlesbrough court over a videolink from Durham Prison’s F Wing, which houses vulnerable prisoners
He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to seven charges of rape and one of indecent assault on one boy and a separate serious sexual offence against the other boy
Weldrake told police when interviewed that he was drunk when he carried out the attacks in town.
He was sentenced to 22 years in custody, plus two years on extended licence, was ordered to register as a sex offender for life and also given a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order banning contact with the victims as well as young children.
Cleveland Police Children and Vulnerable Adult CAVA) officer Detective Constable Louise Aldus said after Friday’s sentencing hearing: “I welcome the significant sentence given to Weldrake today.
"He committed numerous rapes and sexual offences against young male victims in the late 1990s to early 2000s and, after extensive and often harrowing inquiries, he was charged with nine offences
“I hope this lengthy sentence demonstrates that police and the courts take such offences extremely seriously and it should also reassure everyone that it is never too late to report to police.
“Similarly, I would warn perpetrators that you cannot hide from your offending no matter how long ago it took place, police, partner agencies and the courts will take the strongest action against you.
CAVA Detective Chief Inspector Deb Fenny added: “We have teams of specially trained dedicated officers to support victims and their families from the moment they report to us, right through the legal process.
“Rest assured, if you do feel able to come forward you will be believed, you will be listened to and you will be supported.”
Victims are urged to report similar offences any time of day or night to Cleveland Police via the force’s 101 telephone number.