A man who sexually abused children has been handed what police believe could be the 'longest sentence ever' resulting from one of their investigations after he was convicted of 10 rapes and six indecent assaults. 

Detectives have praised the bravery of the three child abuse survivors who reported crimes to Cleveland Police committed by Timothy Leigers, 47.

The force's  Child Abuse and Vulnerable Adult team (CAVA) began an investigation into Leigers in 2021. 

Leigers, formerly of Hartlepool, denied the offences put to him by officers but was charged with several sexual assaults, including rape, and the case went to trial on January 29.

Three weeks later he was convicted of the sexual offences against three vulnerable young victims.

Officer in the case Detective Constable Fran Siebrits said: “I welcome the lengthy sentence issued to Timothy Leigers. While I cannot compensate the victims for the trauma they’ve suffered, I hope this will go some way to help them begin to move forward with their lives. 

"I cannot commend them enough for their bravery and I hope they find solace in knowing that they have now protected others.”

CAVA Detective Inspector Nicky Barker added: “Tackling sexual abuse against vulnerable children remains a priority for Cleveland Police and we’ll do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice even if, like today's case, it’s reported to us many decades later.

“This was an extremely harrowing investigation and the victims’ suffering was compounded by Leigers refusal to admit his guilt, meaning they had to endure the added stress of a trial.

“I too would like to pay tribute to them all for their bravery and hope today’s sentence goes a very long way to help them in recovering from the appalling abuse they experienced.

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“I’d remind anyone who has experienced sexual abuse that it’s never too late to report to police; we have specially trained officers and links with our local agencies who will support you from the moment of reporting. 

"We always ensure victims’ welfare and wellbeing is at the centre of our investigations.”

You can report at any time of day or night online via the Cleveland Police website or by phoning 101.