Ex-local football referee from Ipswich, 76, jailed for child sex offences

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Gregg Brown

A tearful former local football referee told a court he was disgusted with himself after being jailed for seven-and-a-half years for sexually abusing a child.

Gary Licence, 76, of High View Road, Ipswich, was jailed at the town’s crown court after previously pleading guilty to four child sex offences dating back several years.

At the end of his sentencing Licence, who listened to proceedings via a video link from Norwich prison, said: “Can I just say I’m absolutely disgusted with myself totally and I just wish the lady so much better for the future.

“I’m absolutely disgusted with myself. I’m very sorry.”

Earlier Judge David Goodin said Licence, who has also lived in Colchester and Dovercourt, had abused his victim “in the most disgraceful way.”

Licence replied: “Yes Sir. I accept that.”

When told that if the offences had occurred today he could have received a maximum term of life imprisonment, he was heard to say “Oh my God.”

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However, it was explained to Licence, who was well-known on the local football scene during the 1970s and 1980s, that as the offences happened some years ago the judge was constrained to a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Judge Goodin said he had no hesitation in starting at the top of that scale, but had to take into account Licence’s guilty plea at an early stage in proceedings.

Again the judge referred to the “monstrous abuse” of the victim, before giving him credit for not putting her through a trial where she would have to relive her ordeal in front of “12 strangers” on the jury.

Judge Goodin also recognised Licence’s age and infirmity.

The court had previously been told by Licence’s counsel Paul Donegan that his client has suffered a series of minor strokes, two of which have occurred since he was remanded into custody in August.

Licence’s offences were uncovered when his victim, who is now an adult, went to police in August 2015 to tell them he had abused her as a child.

The court heard how the victim said she felt powerless to stop Licence - a former Safeways worker - and had turned into an angry child afterwards.

In addition to his jail term Licence was made subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act and given a sexual harm prevention order. Both were made without limit of time.