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‘Gravest campaign of sex abuse’: predator set up talent shows to lure children

PUBLISHED: 11:45 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:38 25 September 2020

Anthony Lewis in early 2000s. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.

Anthony Lewis in early 2000s. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.

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Victims of a predatory paedophile wanted to die after being assaulted over two decades as part of the “gravest campaign of sex abuse”, a court has heard.

Anthony Lewis in 1986. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.Anthony Lewis in 1986. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.

Anthony Lewis, 58, who also goes by the names Chaz, Chas, Charlie and Tony, worked as an entertainer and would target his victims by setting up talent show companies, preying on young children under the guise of getting them gigs and making them famous.

Norwich Crown Court was told he would also befriend the parents of children and make links with church and charity groups, where he knew children would be present.

Duncan O’Donnell, prosecuting, described Lewis as a “predatory paedophile” who committed a campaign of rapes against his five victims, aged from four to 17, between 1987 and 2007 in Norfolk, Surrey, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and London.

Lewis appeared at court on Wednesday (September 22) where he admitted nine counts of rape, 10 counts of indecent assault and one count of assault by penetration.

Anthony Lewis in 1990s PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.Anthony Lewis in 1990s PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.

All five victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in court where moving victim impact statements were read out ahead of Lewis being sentenced.

One of victims, now in her 40s, said she felt devastated at what had happened, adding Lewis had “destroyed my life”.

She said: “I wanted to die. I just wanted to kill myself, walk into the middle of the road.”

She went out drinking to blot out the pain and said he would now get what he deserved for “ruining my life”.

Anthony Lewis in 1992. PIC: Norfolk Police.Anthony Lewis in 1992. PIC: Norfolk Police.

Another victim, now 40, described being “scared and confused” when she was first sexually assaulted by Lewis.

She said it had affected her mental health and she took drink and drugs “to numb myself and forget what had happened to me as a child”.

She said when he was locked away other children would be safe and added: “He took my innocence, my childhood and ability to form a relationship with others.”

Quiet sobs could be heard from the public gallery where the victims sat and listened intently as each powerful statement was read out by Mr O’Donnell.

Anthony Lewis in mid to late 1990s PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.Anthony Lewis in mid to late 1990s PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.

Another victim, now in her late 20s, said she felt isolated and suffocated as a result of what Lewis did to her, adding her childhood “didn’t exist” as he stopped her doing all the things a teenager should be doing.

She said she started self-harming at 15 and had since felt ashamed as if everything was her fault.

She described feeling suicidal and that much of her life had been a car crash since the abuse she suffered.

Another of the victims, now in her 30s, said all she could remember from her childhood was “just what he did to me”.

Anthony Lewis in mid 1990s. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.Anthony Lewis in mid 1990s. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.

The victim said she should have been happy as a child but “ran away from life” and had just wanted to die until she had her first child.

The final victim said she has suffered from depression and anxiety as a result of the abuse, stating it had affected her relationships with men and left her always looking over her shoulder as she was “always in fear” of that man turning up and raping her in front of her children.

Lewis, of Northamptonshire, who has a previous conviction of making/possessing indecent images of children in May 2018, was sentenced by Judge Andrew Shaw, who said the defendant had “committed the gravest campaign of sex abuse” against the five victims.

Judge Shaw, who adjourned sentencing until Thursday so he could reflect on Lewis’ crimes, said the defendant had been responsible for the “most appalling campaign of sexual abuse of five child victims over a 20-year period”.

Anthony Lewis custody image. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.Anthony Lewis custody image. PIC; Norfolk Constabulary.

He said the victim impact statements were “among the saddest and most upsetting” he had ever heard, adding that he had “robbed these children of their childhood and ruined their lives”.

Sentencing Lewis to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 11 years before he is considered eligible for parole, Judge Shaw said it was a case of the utmost gravity where only a life sentence was appropriate, adding that he may never be released.

Mike Garvey, for Lewis, said there was “very little” he could say in mitigation with the only thing he could advance being his timely pleas to these matters.

The freephone NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000 is available for anyone to report or seek advice about non-recent abuse. Calls can be made anonymously.

Norfolk Sexual Assault Referral Centre, The Harbour Centre, operates a 24-hour service for victims of sexual abuse and can be contacted on 01603 276381.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is the UK’s only children’s charity dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse and runs a Freephone confidential helpline 0808 1000 900.


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