Former Sunderland councillor labelled as 'horrific paedophile' by brave victim in court

A victim of a pervert former councillor has called him a "horrific paedophile" as he faced him in court after living with the burden of shocking abuse.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 5:47 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 5:52 pm
Thomas Wright

Thomas Wright, who was Labour councillor for Sunderland's Pennywell Ward for 18 years, committed vile acts involving four children.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the now 67-year-old violated the children in the historic attacks.

Christopher Rose, prosecuting said Wright had been interviewed by police three times between 2018 and 2019.

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Two of Wright's victims read out their impact statements to the court in person.

One victim said: "From the moment you told me not to tell anyone, otherwise we would both get into trouble, I have had to carry that burden.

"I grew up living in confinement and emotional pain."

The victim said said Wright had committed "evil and despicable acts", adding: "I now hope that the world will see you as you truly are - a horrific paedophile - and others who have been abused will find the courage to come forward and tell their truth."

Another victim said: "I know I have hidden myself behind this mask for a long time.

"I wanted to come forward about the abuse by Tommy Wright but I felt no-one would believe me.

"For years I thought no-one would believe me.

"I commend him for pleading guilty which means we, his victims, don't have to go through the trauma of a trial."

Mr Rose read two other victim impact statements out to the court.

One victim said: "I have never been able to talk about the abuse with anyone. I was so ashamed.

"I was trying to suppress the guilt.

"I was feeling worthless and unloveable."

Another victim said: "When I was younger this abuse made me fearful of men.

"I felt vulnerable.

"I feel there should be justice done.

"I am so glad I have had this opportunity to tell what happened to me and get Tommy Wright the punishment he deserves."

Wright, now of First Street, Consett, pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault and three counts of committing serious sexual offences.

Liam O'Brien, defending said: "Nothing I do say or possibly could say is intended to diminish or trivialise the impact of the defendant's offending."

Mr O'Brien said that Wright had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and that given they were historical sex offences, sentences that would have been passed contemporaneously would have been lower and this should be taken into account.

He said that Wright had served his local community, as a Labour councillor for 18 years and was chairman of the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority.

Mr O'Brien said Wright is morbidly obese, uses crutches and has had back and heart problems "the effect of all of this is that he struggles with his day to day life."

He asked the judge to consider the impact of the defendant's incarceration on his family.

Judge Stephen Earl adjourned the case for sentencing until February 28 and granted Wright bail in the meantime.