Paedophile hung eight-year-old victim over Sunderland bridge to warn her off talking

NINE YEARS ... Clarence Underwood confessed to six specimen charges of sexual assault.
NINE YEARS ... Clarence Underwood confessed to six specimen charges of sexual assault.
Have your say

PERVERT Clarence Underwood’s victim today broke her silence after the pensioner paedophile was jailed for nine years.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told how she had suffered nightmares and panic attacks for 50 years following the abuse she received as a child.

Underwood, now 70, is beginning his nine-year sentence after confessing to six specimen charges of sexual assaults.

His victim said: “I have lived in fear of him for almost 50 years and last night, for the first time in my life, I slept with the light off.

“I’ve had nightmares and panic attacks all these years. But today it all ends.”

Pervert Underwood ensured his victim’s silence by telling the then-five-year-old Sunderland schoolgirl that she was to blame and issuing sinister threats.

She said: “When I was about eight years old he took me to the Queen Alexandra Bridge, dangled me over and warned me, if I told, he would drop me over.”

Decades later, the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, finally found the courage to break her silence.

When confronted by detectives in 2012, Underwood branded her a malicious liar.

But before the case got to trial the now 70-year-old confessed to six specimen charges of sexual assaults.

The victim told the Echo: “Up until this point, I’ve lived my life in fear.

“This week, for the first time I can remember, I’m not afraid any more and you know what, it’s a lovely feeling.

“I couldn’t even go to court to face him because I’d been so scared.

“Now, I feel nothing about him; he’s dead to me. Even after everything that’s happened, he’s never acknowledged what he did or tried to apologise for it.”

Newcastle Crown Court heard this week how Underwood had “stolen” the victim’s childhood.

Judge Jeremy Freedman told him: “That is the reality. You took away her childhood.

“You exacerbated the situation by maintaining denials right up to the last moment so she had to face the prospect of giving evidence in court and through your lawyer being called a liar.

“For everything you did you blamed her, saying it was her fault and issued threats.”

The victim told police she had not initially realised what Underwood was doing was wrong.

Prosecutor Jonathan Devlin said: “The defendant would tell her it was her fault.

“She felt ashamed of herself, she had problems sleeping, felt different from other children.”

The victim said the traumatic memories of what happened to her affected her whole adult life and ruined her marriage.

She said: “Now, today, feels like the first day of the rest of my life.”

The court heard Underwood, who later moved to Church Road in Liverpool, has not been in trouble before or since the offences and is in poor health.

He must sign the sex offenders register and abide by the terms of a sexual offences prevention order for the rest of his life.