Page last updated at 21:44 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Vanessa George nursery abuse victims' 'life term'

Vanessa George
George may be given a new identity on release from prison

Parents whose children were in nursery paedophile Vanessa George's care, have said her sentence might have been fair, but theirs will last a lifetime.

The 39-year-old, from Plymouth, used a mobile phone to take pictures of herself abusing toddlers at Little Ted's Nursery.

George was jailed indeterminately at Bristol Crown Court and will serve a minimum of seven years.

"The judge was fair, but we'll never be able to move on," one mother said.

"It's not finished and it won't be for a long, long time.

"People have got to try to get a normal household with their children and it's not going to happen overnight.

One mother told me Vanessa George could no long emotionally do anything to hurt them as families
Kathy Hancock, families' spokeswoman

"It's a lifelong sentence we're serving as well."

The parent, who cannot be named to protect her child, had travelled to Bristol to see George sentenced.

One father, who chose to stay with his child and partner in Plymouth, said George's actions had damaged his belief in himself as a father.

"You look at your child and think 'how could I let something like this happen'," he said.

But no matter how difficult it is, he said the families would have to try to put things behind them and move on.

Some of them are angry, some resigned and a few pleased another hurdle has been cleared.

Kathy Hancock, who has acted as unofficial spokeswoman for families in the Efford area of Plymouth since George was arrested in June, said given everything they have been through, it was understandable the sentencing had sparked different emotions.

'Wake-up call'

"Relief would be one of the emotions. One parent said to me 'thank God for some justice'," Ms Hancock told BBC News.

"They've had some closure today, but they now need to build their lives.

"One mother told me Vanessa George could no longer emotionally do anything to hurt them as families," she said.

"They have their children and they can put them to bed, they can bath them, they can read them a story.

"[George] has nothing to look forward to."

Vanessa George (l) Angela Allen
George (l) and Allen had not met until they appeared in court in October

Angela Allen, 39, from Nottingham, who was sent the images taken by George, was also given an indeterminate sentence and told she would have to serve at least five years.

Colin Blanchard, 39, from Rochdale, who forwarded the pictures to Allen after George sent them to him, will be sentenced at a later date.

The NSPCC said the case had been a "wake-up call" to make people realise that women, as well as men, did abuse children.

"Children won't speak up if they fear no-one will believe them so when they pluck up the courage to say a woman has sexually abused them, we need to listen," chief executive Andrew Flanagan said.

Plymouth Sutton MP Linda Gilroy said the government would now press ahead with a serious case review to find out what lessons could be learned from what happened at Little Ted's Nursery.

She told BBC News the review had been delayed until judgement had been passed in order to allow the families involved to have an input.

"It would be foolish to say it couldn't happen again, but I'm absolutely certain we'll be able to learn a lot," she said.

"I think the community's been remarkable in the way it's coped with such chilling, unbelievably evil actions."

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