A COUNTY DOWN couple have been jailed for a combined total of 24 years after they were found guilty of a range of child sexual offences.
60-year-old Gary Talbot pled guilty to sexual offences including rape of a child and gross indecency, as well as making and distributing indecent images of a child.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Heather Talbot, aged 59, pled guilty to charges including aiding and abetting rape and gross indecency. She was handed a six-year sentence.
Under the terms of their sentence, Mr Talbot must serve at least half of his term in prison while Ms Talbot will remain behind bars for a minimum of six years.
A former postman and school bus driver, Mr Talbot abused his victim when she was just a toddler and then later when she was aged 13 or 14.
His wife, an ex-school teacher, admitted to taking pictures of her husband during the sexual assault on the young child.
She also admitted to the indecent assault of the child and committing acts of gross indecency on them.
'They betrayed my trust in the most despicable way'
A statement from the victim read outside court welcomed the verdict.
“I am glad that my abusers have finally faced justice and will have to serve time in prison for what they did to me,” they said.
“I was only a child when they took my innocence away. The abuse left me traumatised and upset as they betrayed my trust in the most despicable way. The trauma caused me to lose all my childhood memories and develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
“The past year has been very difficult for me, my family and friends. I would like to thank them for being there for me, not only for every court hearing but for supporting me day to day as I have struggled to come to terms with my abuse.
“I would also like to thank the police detective who investigated my case. She has been thorough and dedicated whilst at the same time being compassionate, caring and kind to me.
“Pursuing justice has been a long process however seeing my abusers jailed has given me renewed strength and I am now looking forward to the future in which I’m hoping to become a counsellor as counselling has been essential in my recovery and thank you to my counsellor as you have inspired me to help others overcome traumatic experiences.
“I would really like to thank and commend all survivors of sexual abuse for your amazing strength as it has helped me to fight to get my justice.
“Together we will send a message across the world that there is no shame in being a survivor of sexual abuse - the shame is on the abuser.”
'A hugely disturbing and harrowing case of the most awful abuse.'
Detective Chief Inspector Claire McGuigan described their crimes as “a hugely disturbing and harrowing case of the most awful abuse.”
“It is hard to comprehend the impact their crimes have had on the victim and her family,” she added.
“I would like to pay tribute to the victim and her family for their courage and commitment in seeing this case through the criminal justice system and they have today, finally achieved justice.
“I hope that others who are suffering sexual abuse or who are aware of sexual crimes taking place are encouraged to come forward and speak with Police.”
The Talbots had both been on remand since January 2018 when their crimes came to light.
Police discovered multiple computer devices in their home including a hard drive containing abuse images.
It was found locked away in a cupboard with the key located inside a copy of the book Lolita.
During his police interview, Gary Talbot identified his victim, who he said was aged between 18 months and three years old at the time of the rapes.
The victim had no recollection of this abuse taking place.