Victim: I was only a child when they took my innocence away

Victim: I was only a child when they took my innocence away

12 February 2020

NEWCASTLE paedophile couple Gary and Heather Talbot finally faced justice as they were jailed this week for a combined 24 years for the “depraved and disgusting” sexual abuse of a child.

Sixty year-old Gary Talbot was jailed for 15 years for 16 sexual offences, including two rapes of a girl from the age of 18 months and later as a teen, gross indecency, and the making and distributing of indecent images.

At Monday’s Downpatrick Crown Court sitting in Belfast, Talbot learnt he will serve seven-and-a-half years in prison, followed by the same period on licence when he is released.

His 59 year-old wife was jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to seven charges, including aiding and abetting the two rapes of the child, gross indecency and possession of indecent images. She will spend six years in jail and the remaining three out on licence.

Earlier court hearings heard that the pair, from the Kinghill Avenue in the seaside town, had filmed themselves naked while abusing the child.

Gary Talbot, a former bus driver and postman, got a 12-year sentence for the rape and abuse of the girl from 2001-2003 when she was just a toddler. He got another three years for raping and abusing her again from 2012-14 when she was aged between 13 and 14. 

He entered early guilty pleas to his offences last year, although his wife initially denied the extent of her involvement in the catalogue of abuse against the child.

The couple were also both made the subjects of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) which will remain in place for life, and they will also be on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period.

Passing sentence, Judge Piers Grant blasted the pair for their depraved and disgusting” offences which showed “obvious wickedness and wrongdoing” to their vulnerable victim.

He added that their actions “will provoke a sense of disgust and even disbelief that anyone could act in this way, particularly towards a child of such tender years.”

The assaults against the girl were only discovered in October 2017 when police examined computer equipment at the Talbots’ home when it emerged they boasted and fantasised about child sex abuse on an online chat room.

Their now 20 year-old victim bravely spoke out after the sentencing for the first time to denounce them for the long-lasting impact their abuse had on her.

Welcoming the sentencing through a statement issued by the PSNI, she 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.”

The young woman praised the police detective who investigated her case for being “thorough and dedicated whilst at the same time being compassionate, caring and kind to me”.

She also thanked her counsellor as “counselling had been essential in my recovery” and said that seeing her abusers jailed had given her “renewed strength”.

She added: “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.”

Detectives from PSNI’s Public Protection Branch welcomed the sentences.

Detective Chief Inspector Claire McGuigan said: “This was a hugely disturbing and harrowing case of the most awful abuse and I am thankful today that Gary and Heather Talbot have received a significant custodial sentence and will remain in prison for some time. 

“The sentence handed down today reflects the serious and shocking nature of the crimes they committed against a young, vulnerable and innocent child.”

The detective paid tribute to the young woman and her family “for their courage and commitment in seeing this case through the criminal justice system and they have today, finally achieved justice.”

She added: “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. 

“We have specially trained detectives in our Public Protection Branch, and they will treat you sensitively, fairly, with compassion and respect.”

Senior public prosecutor and Higher Court advocate, Joseph Murphy, spoke of how the PPS Serious Crime Unit worked closely with the PSNI to build a “robust prosecution case” against the Talbots.

He said: “This is a particularly grave and distressing case of abuse against a very young child who was aged just 18 months when the Talbots started to violate her.”

He revealed that while Gary Talbot entered guilty pleas at an early stage, a photographic expert was able to disprove Heather Talbot’s contention that she did not film the abuse.

Mr Murphy said: “At police interview, Heather Talbot had admitted being present when some of the indecent images were taken, but denied taking any of the photos or assisting her husband in abusing the child. 

“The PPS directed an expert report to prove the photographs were taken by manual operation of a hand held camera, proving Heather Talbot must have taken all of them.  

“Heather Talbot entered guilty pleas after her lawyers examined all of the images and agreed the PPS expert report was accurate. This saved the victim from the upsetting experience of having to give evidence in court.”

He also commended the bravery of the young woman and her family throughout the criminal justice process.

An NSPCC spokesperson described the case as “absolutely horrific”.

“We hope the survivor is now able to find the support needed to help them move forward with their life,’ he added. 

“We would urge any other victims of abuse to speak out, confident in the knowledge that they will be listened to, no matter how much time has passed.”

Anyone who has been affected by abuse or is worried about a child can contact the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or at

The Childline service is also available to children 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or by visiting