A WOMAN today described her horror at discovering her partner was an “evil” child abuser who faked his death and went on the run from police.
Paedophile Leslie Andrews staged a Reginald Perrin-style disappearance to evade detection when he heard he was facing a raft of child abuse allegations.
Yesterday he was jailed for seven years.
The 54-year-old wanted people to believe he had drowned in the sea off Blackpool when he left his clothing and a suicide note on the beach.
But he started a new life in Hornsea, Humberside, where he had opened a restaurant named Charleston’s under the assumed name Chris Trent with new partner Ann Sykes.
Businessman but soon became addicted to gambling and Ann threw him out after learning he was seeing another woman in the seaside resort.
Ann, who has now begun a new life in Turkey, today revealed her disgust at finding out her former partner was a child abuser after seeing his face in a newspaper article when he was convicted of indecent assault in May.
The 55-year-old said: “The fact he was charged with sex offences makes me sick. I’m horrified that I spent a long time with this guy, if I’d have had any inkling of his background I’d have handed him in.
“I’m disgusted with the sentence. He’ll probably serve half of it and people have been given longer terms for traffic offences.
“His sentence is a year less than he was on the run for. He’s gone around wrecking lives and would have continued to do so if he’d have got away with it.
“He kept his lies pretty close to the truth and was so convincing he would have carried on getting away with it.”
A jury at Preston Crown Court found Andrews guilty of 14 counts of indecent assault committed between May 1997 and May 2002.
Sentencing Andrews, Judge Norman Wright told him: “When these matters came to light, you decided you were not going to face the music.
“You disappeared and acted out an elaborate charade around Blackpool beach to put people off the scent.
“Your victim was young and vulnerable. She was a girl who did not know what was happening but knew something was not right.
“She was your sexual plaything for some five years or so and you have to pay the price.”
The judge said the “worrying features” of the case were his “controlling, manipulative and predatory behaviour”.
He said Andrews became “emboldened” when the victim initially raised concerns that he had inappropriately kissed her, but did not pursue the matter.
Andrews’s victim burst into tears after sentence was passed.
In 2002, two police officers had gone to his flat in St Heliers Road, South Shore, and informed him of the sexual allegations and said he would have to be questioned in the near future.
A few days later Andrews drove the short distance towards St Annes and parked his red Ford Escort on Clifton Drive North, near Pontins.
He headed across to the beach where he left his personal items and disappeared – just like the TV character Perrin, played by Leonard Rossiter.
Andrews changed his name and refused to visit a doctor or dentist or use his National Insurance number in the years to follow.
He moved around on a regular basis taking cash-in-hand jobs and lived at addresses – including caravan parks – throughout Humberside, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
He was traced last May in Wakefield when he was arrested on suspicion of theft and his previous history of petty offending was uncovered.
Andrews admitted the suicide ruse at his trial but told the court he wanted to start a new life because of his mounting debts and marital problems.
He told no-one of his scheme and left his wife and family as he cut off all contact with them.
Robin Kitching, defending, said his client now admitted to four of the sexual assaults but maintained his innocence over the rest of the counts.
He added: “For the first time he has disclosed in detail the abuse which was perpetrated on him when he was young.
“Mr Andrews is adamant there will be no repetition and it will not happen again.”
Andrews was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life and restricted from contact with any child aged under 16.
Following the sentencing, Insp Tony Baxter, head of the public protection unit at Blackpool Police, told The Gazette: “He’s clearly an evil man. He sexually assaulted his victim and realising the net was closing in on him he went on the run.
“He left a clear suicide note but we always had suspicions that he had staged it and may well still be alive.