A MAN has been found guilty of sexually assaulting five women when they were children in sickening attacks spanning almost 30 years.

A court heard that one of Christopher Symes' victims had contemplated suicide following the abuse because she had feared telling anyone of her ordeal and 'couldn't take it any longer'.

Symes went on trial at Salisbury Crown Court charged with eight counts of indecent assault, two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13 and one count of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

Dorset Echo: Christopher Symes. Picture: Dorset PoliceChristopher Symes. Picture: Dorset Police

The 58-year-old, of Lorne Road, Dorchester, had already pleaded guilty to six other charges, including three counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of sexual assault and one count of taking indecent photographs of a child.

All of the offences took place between 1984 to 2012.

The court heard that five women in total had come forward accusing Symes of abusing them as children.

In Judge Robert Pawson’s summary of the case to the jury before their deliberations, he described the accusations from victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

He said that one victim Symes abused in the late 80s had attempted suicide when she was 15 because ‘she couldn’t take it any longer’.

In an interview she said: “I didn’t want to hurt anybody by telling anyone.

“I didn’t feel able to tell family or the police, but these things did happen, he did touch me sexually.

“If I knew he was going to go on and hurt others I would have said something sooner.”

Judge Pawson said one victim had recalled being offered money to strip for him, while another - who first went to police 15 years ago to report Symes - said she was 11 when he sexually abused her.

The court heard another victim was unsure of how old she was, but that she was ‘only little’ when the abuse started.

During an interview in 2017 she said: “It was when I was only little, I can’t remember how old.

“He said, 'You used to want it when you were younger'.”

A jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on Tuesday, November 10 for all 11 charges.

Detective Constable Georgina Boast, of Dorset Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Team, said: “I want to praise the victims in this case for having the courage to come forward to support this investigation and help secure the conviction of Christopher Symes for his despicable offending.

“Thanks to their evidence, we have now secured the conviction of a serial offender – who abused several victims over a number of years – and I hope this case encourages others to have the strength to come forward in the knowledge that they will be supported and with our help we can bring sexual abusers to justice.”

Symes has been remanded in custody pending sentence at Bournemouth Crown Court on December 17.

How to report child abuse:

Dorset Police: For non-urgent reports, or to make an enquiry, please go to www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online where you can pass on the details of your concerns to us using the online enquiry form. You can also email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or call 101. If you believe a child is in immediate danger please dial 999.

Crimestoppers: Call anonymously on 0800 555 111

Local Children’s Social Care:

STARS Dorset www.starsdorset.org/children-and-young-persons-service / 01202 308858

The Shores - Dorset SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) 01202 552 056

BCP Council 01202 093131

Dorset Council (Children’s Advice and Duty Service) 01305 228866

You can also report directly to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) www.ceop.police.uk