An undertaker who sexually abused five boys is facing the prospect of dying in prison after he was jailed for 20 years.
Predatory paedophile Gerald Martin devastated the lives of each if his victims, Teesside Crown Court heard.
In emotional statements read to the court, two of the victims described how they had attempted suicide, turned to drink, and had been unable to hold down jobs or maintain stable relationships.
In a two-week trial earlier this year, the jury heard Martin abused boys in public toilets in Hartlepool, at the funeral home where he worked, and in two other buildings in the town.
Martin denied all allegations against him, claiming at first he is not homosexual, but later conceding he is homosexual but is only interested in adult men.
The 66-year-old, of Valley Close, Hartlepool, was convicted of seven charges of indecent assault, three charges of committing a serious sexual offence, three charges of attempting to commit the same serious sexual offence, and one charge of false imprisonment.
One of the victims told the sentencing hearing: “What he did to me stole my life, killed my dreams, and destroyed all my hopes.
“Justice may be served today and the case will end, but it will affect me until the day I die.”
Another victim said: “I locked everything away, I have no memories of childhood other than my interest in football which I threw myself into.
“Home life, school, doing things children do, it’s just not there.
“If you don’t have a proper childhood you cannot develop as an adult and have a future.”
The court heard one of the victims has attempted suicide several times, suffers from long-term depression, and took an overdose just three weeks ago due to having to relive his ordeal during the court case.
Jamie Hill QC, defending Martin, said he still denies any wrongdoing.
“It would be inappropriate for me to say anything about the facts of the case,” Mr Hill added.
“Mr Martin was highly regarded professionally in the town.
“Since being in prison he has tried to make the best of it by taking on more than one job.”
Judge Simon Phillips jailed Martin for 20 years.
The judge told him: “For over two decades you were an active, manipulative and predatory paedophile.
“The impact on your victims cannot be underestimated.
“Your damaged them irreparably, and it is impossible to know the full extent of that damage.
“Yet you have shown no remorse, insight or acceptance of the harm you caused.”
Martin was made the subject of an indefinite order banning any unsupervised contact with children, and he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Judge Phillips praised the team of detectives in the case for their ‘patient, thorough, and fair’ investigation.
Police say Mail story was important to the case
A detective in the case said the victims were pleased with the sentence, but were in shock at the case being finally over.
Detective Inspector Matt Hollingsworth, of Cleveland Police, recognised the important role a picture taken by the Hartlepool Mail of Martin outside the town’s magistrates’ court played in bringing victims forward
“We had two victims at the time,” said Det Insp Hollingsworth. “One of those died before the case came to court.
“Another victim saw that picture and came forward because of it.
“That gave us the opportunity to trace the other victims, and victims in another case which is still before the courts.”