Serial abuser, 78, jailed decades after sickening crimes in Sunderland

“It’s never too late for justice”

That’s the message from police after a serial abuser has been locked up for nearly two decades after being outed by his brave victims.

Owen Melvin, 78, of Westford Alness, Scotland, first came to Northumbria Police’s attention in 2020 after two victims came forward to report non-recent abuse which took place in Sunderland several decades ago.

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An investigation was launched and Melvin was subsequently charged with a sea of sexual assault offences against one female and cruelty charges against one male.

The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault but denied any further charges.

During a six-day-long trial, a jury at Newcastle Crown Court found him guilty of a further five counts of indecent assault, one count of indecency with a child and four counts of cruelty to a person under 16.

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And back at that same court on Monday, a judge sentenced him to 17 years behind bars.

Detective Constable Helen Barrow, of Northumbria Police’s Safeguarding department, said: “Melvin stood in front of the court an old man pleading his innocence and no doubt hoped that a jury would be blinded by his frailty.

“But they saw through his lies and found him guilty of 10 additional offences before a judge sentenced him to 17 years behind bars, ensuring he’ll spend the rest of his life locked up with nothing to keep him company but his own miserable thoughts.”

She added: “I want to say well done to the two people who very bravely came forward to disclose the abuse they suffered at the hands of Melvin.

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“It’s not an easy thing to come forward and have to re-live the worst part of your life but, thanks to their courage, an evil man will hopefully serve the remainder of his life behind bars.

“I truly hope this sentence gives the survivors a sense of justice and comfort.

“I also hope that this shows others who have suffered non-recent abuse that it’s never too late for justice.

“You will be listened to, supported and we will do everything we can to ensure your abuser is put before a court.

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“You’re not alone and you don’t deserve to suffer in silence while your abuser gets to go about their day-to-day life answering to no one. We are always here.”

For support or more information on how to disclose sexual assault or rape, visit Northumbria Police’s website: Rape and sexual assault : Northumbria Police.

To report any other type of historic abuse, contact police on 101 or report online via the Force’s website.