A woman has given a harrowing account of how an indecent assault 30 years ago has affected her life.
Speaking as retired firefighter Christopher Hopkins was sentenced for the attack in the mid 1980s, the woman - who can not be named for legal reasons - said: “He just carried on as normal.
I have suffered from anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts in my 20s
“My life as a young person was changed and continues to be changed to this day.”
Preston Crown Court heard Hopkins, 55, attacked the woman when she was asleep in a caravan at Windy Harbour Caravan Park, Singleton, in what he described as “a drunken moment of madness.” He was jailed for six months.
The woman, who was just 15 at the time of the attack, said she was petrified when she woke to find Hopkins, then 24, touching her inside her pyjamas. Shaking as she read her victim impact statement to the court, she said: “I have suffered from anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts in my 20s.
“I can’t remember my teenage years.I have had serious trust issues with men. Even now I have similar thoughts and feelings with men in general.
“I still have flashbacks in my bed and during sex. I have had counselling sessions to learn coping mechanisms to deal with this.
“I am still unable to go to Blackpool or stay in a caravan for a period of time. I have difficulty sleeping in certain positions.
“Perhaps the biggest thing is the effect it has had on my relationships in my family. I have felt isolated from them.
“As I was being assaulted I was absolutely terrified. I have never been so terrified before or since. He had no respect for me. He just did what he wanted to do, so much so that I don’t think he even felt guilty the next day.”
Following the attack Hopkins was confronted by members of the woman’s family but denied the allegations.
In October last year - after counselling - the woman made a complaint to Lancashire Police who launched an investigation.
Hopkins was arrested in December, and told police the woman had “an axe to grind.”
However, he later requested a second interview where he admitted he had indecently assaulted her - saying he had been drinking but that was no excuse.
The court heard Hopkins, of Tower Court, Turton, Bolton. served as a firefighter for 30 years in Bolton with Greater Manchester Fire Service and was well regarded in the community.
Judge Jacqueline Beech, sentencing, said: “If you had admitted your offending at that stage this matter would have been dealt with 30 years ago. The delay in cases such as this can not and does not reduce the sentence.
“You could have admitted these offences at any stage. This was not a case where you were immature at the time.
“You were 24 and knew exactly what you were doing as the adult in respect of a 15- year-old girl. This is a graphic account of how sexual offences blight the lives of victims.”