A man who raped and sexually abused three children in the late 1990s and early 2000s has been jailed.

David Leather, 37 and of Wharfdale Way in Gloucester, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday (29 September) where he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Leather was also issued with an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order, indefinite restraining orders preventing contact with his victims and added to the Sex Offenders Register for life.

He had previously been found guilty by a jury of eight counts of rape, indecent assault, and indecency with a child, under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

The offences relate to abuse ranging from sexual touching to rape, over a number of years, when the victims were between the ages of four and nine.

Leather would force the victims to perform sexual acts in return for turns playing on a games console, and would threaten them that if they told anyone they would get pregnant, or get put into care.

One victim, in his Victim Personal Statement, said that the abuse “has tortured me for the best part of 20 years.”

He went on to say “My lack of self-worth boils down to being ashamed of what has happened to me
..I feel like I put myself in that situation, because as an adult I look back and think ‘why did I go back into the room’. I know that everyone around me would tell me this is wrong because I was a child, it was abuse, and it was normalised, but I can’t help that this is how I feel.

“Ultimately I still feel humiliated and embarrassed about being a victim of this crime, no matter how many people tell me I shouldn’t.”

Another victim, in her Victim Personal Statement, said: “When we did sex education at the start of secondary school, that brought everything with David back up in a different light.

“I think it was that which made me realise what David had done to me, as prior to that sex wasn’t really talked about. I felt dirty and disgusting to realise what had been happening.”

She added: “The abuse from David has affected my relationships throughout my life, by causing me to have low self-esteem and confidence”.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Elle MacLeod from the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences team, said: “The victims have shown amazing courage in coming forward to the police and remained resilient in supporting the criminal justice process to its conclusion.

“I wish to commend the victims for their incredible bravery and strength, and for helping to ensure no further victims come to harm at the hands of this defendant.

“Now they finally have some acknowledgement for what they were subjected to, and I hope they can begin to rebuild their lives.”

Detective Inspector Rory Ainslie, also from the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, added: “The conviction of David Leather is the result of successful joined-up working from multiple agencies across the criminal justice system.

“Through this partnership approach we are transforming the way that the CPS and police handle rape and sexual assault cases, and are working together to ensure that victims are supported throughout the prosecution process.

“Gloucestershire Constabulary take allegations of rape and sexual offences extremely seriously and we investigate them with the utmost sensitivity.  We will believe you, listen and support you throughout every step of the investigation and do everything we can to bring the offender to justice

“I would also like to commend the victims in this case for coming forward and supporting the prosecution. They have described in very honest detail the impact that this horrific offence has had on them and their families. Their courage and resilience, together with the dedication of the OIC DC MacLeod has ensured that we have achieved a positive outcome.”

If you have experienced rape, sexual assault or abuse, and wish to report the crime, you contact police by calling 101 or 999 in the case of an emergency. You can also report online by visiting: https://www.police.uk/pu/contact-us/rape-sexual-assault-or-another-sexual-offence/

You can find more information on the support services available by visiting: https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rsa/rape-and-sexual-assault/support-for-victims-of-rape-and-sexual-assault/