Victims of Sheffield child abuser urged to come forward

Andrew Lawton, of Archer Road, Millhouses, abused his niece Lauren Brooker while he looked after her when her parents were working.

Andrew Lawton, of Archer Road, Millhouses, abused his niece Lauren Brooker while he looked after her when her parents were working.

A Sheffield woman sexually abused by her uncle when she was a child fears there could be more victims who have not yet come forward.

Lauren Brooker, aged 34, was assaulted by her uncle for three years from when she was nine.

Andrew Lawton, of Archer Road, Millhouses, abused his niece Lauren Brooker while he looked after her when her parents were working.

Andrew Lawton, of Archer Road, Millhouses, abused his niece Lauren Brooker while he looked after her when her parents were working.

The brave mum-of-two, who has waived her right to anonymity, spoke about her ordeal after Andrew Lawton was jailed for 11 years and six months at Sheffield Crown Court.

Lawton, of Archer Road, Millhouses, abused Lauren while he looked after her when her parents were working.

Lauren said: “Most people look back at their childhood with fondness, remembering happy times. But I don’t - he took my innocence away.

“Girls my age should have been playing with dolls and babies, not suffering the abuse and seeing the things I was. It still affects me, but now that I know he is behind bars I can try to deal with it and move on.”

Lawton received a three-and-a-half year sentence for indecent assault and indecency with a child for his abuse of Lauren and eight years for raping a teenage girl he got pregnant.

Lauren said she fears there could be more victims.

Lawton worked at Heeley City Farm from 1994 to 2007, where Lauren fears he would have had access to children on trips there.

Lauren, from Hackenthorpe, said: “I hope me speaking out helps others come forward, knowing that the police will believe them regardless of how long ago the offending was.

“He ruined my childhood and I strongly believe there will be others like me.

“I don’t want being a victim of child sex abuse to be a taboo subject. The more we talk about it, the more people might come forward. When you report something like this to the police it’s handled with such understanding and sensitivity. They do believe you and support you through the whole process, it’s not something to fear or to be ashamed of.

“I’ve lived with this hanging over my head for over 23 years, finally being able to report it and see justice has lifted a great weight from my shoulders”

Det Con Ann Wadsworth said: “Lauren’s bravery and that of the second victim throughout our investigation has been a real strength and Lauren’s decision to waive her anonymity, in the hopes that it encourages other victims of sexual abuse to come forward, is inspiring.”

A Heeley City Farm spokesman said: “The current management are unaware of any historical allegations of abuse occurring on the farm during this person’s employment.

“All staff undergo robust employment procedures including DBS checks to ensure that the farm is a safe place for vulnerable adults and young people.

“We will work with the police to aid any formal investigations.”