“It robbed me of my childhood and ultimately the person I was supposed to become”

A man has shared his heartbreak following the twisted actions of a “depraved” pedophile.

Raymond Hawthorne subjected two children to horrific campaigns of assault and rape. He showered one of the children with expensive gifts, including trainers and a bicycle, while exploiting him for his own sick desires.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the now 60-year-old “preyed, groomed and sexually assaulted” his victims in the Birkenhead area over around 10 years in the 1980s and 90s.

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One of Hawthorne’s victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, shared her story about the significant impact the abuse had on her.

He said: “For as long as I can remember, I have lived a life of fear. Afraid of Ray, of getting in trouble if anyone knew what was going on. I had feelings of embarrassment, guilt, remorse. I was so young and I wondered if anything was my fault or not.

“As I got older, I realized that what was going on was not right. I was a boy and I was very embarrassed that it happened to me. I was afraid to talk about it with anyone. I felt ashamed, I didn’t think anyone would believe me, and I wasn’t strong enough to deal with what was happening. He was a big and strong man and I was just a child.

“As I reached my teenage years, I became aware of a change in myself – my personality, my feelings, my mind – I became angry and frustrated. Looking back, I think I closed myself off. I think I stopped caring and loving others. It robbed me of my childhood and ultimately the person I was supposed to become.

“I struggle to maintain relationships. I met my daughter’s mother and we were together for almost 10 years. She did everything to help me, she loved me very much, and because I couldn’t function as a normal person, I let her and my daughter down. The relationship broke down because I couldn’t empathize and I didn’t have the ability to relate to my feelings that I attributed to my childhood trauma. I deeply regret what I put them through and wish I had handled things differently.

“It’s only in the last five years that I’ve found some peace and tried to put the past behind me. I hope those hurt by this case can now heal and move on.”

Hawthorne was found guilty of two counts of rape, 10 counts of indecent assault and two counts of gross indecency with a child by a jury. He was jailed for 27 years, of which he must serve at least two-thirds before becoming eligible for release, and given a further eight years on licence.

If you have been affected by sexual violence of any kind, don’t be afraid to tell someone, find the courage to come forward and get the help you deserve. You can report rape, sexual assault and other sexual crimes anonymously here.