Needham Market man jailed for seven years for sexual activity with a child

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

A 56-year-old Suffolk man has been jailed for seven years after being convicted of five counts of sexual activity with a child.

Anthony Harmsworth, of Drift Court, Needham Market, had previously been found guilty at his Ipswich Crown Court trial.

Harmsworth, who had previously lived in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Leiston, listened to the sentencing seated in a wheelchair in front of the dock flanked three security guards.

During the hearing it was said that when police went to arrest him on the allegations he had tried to take an overdose of tablets.

The court also heard that at one stage following his arrest Harmsworth had also made his way up to the Orwell Bridge, but was unable to get over the barriers due to his ill health.

Harmsworth had no previous history of sexual offences, although he did have older convictions for dishonesty.

It was said he had a disposition towards depression due to physical abuse he suffered during his childhood.

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Harmsworth had been remanded in custody following his trial.

Miss Donovan told the court: “He is an ill man. I think he’s found it quite difficult in prison as anyone would. He accepts this is going to be a long sentence.”

Prior the hearing Harmsworth was tearful as he waited for it to begin.

Handing down his sentence Judge David Goodin told Harmsworth that he had no doubt his misery over his failing health at the time of the offences coupled with his awareness of what he was doing would made things very difficult for him to deal with.

The judge said when officers arrived at Harmsworth’s home he ran to the kitchen and took a handful of pills, but then either spat them out or was unable to swallow them.

Judge Goodin told him: “It seems to me that you portray yourself as one of life’s victims.

“You were not a victim at all. You were a predator.”

In addition to his jail term Harmsworth was told he would be made subject to the requirements of Sexual Offences Act including signing the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.