Brave woman speaks out over Worthing abuse to give strength to other survivors

Sara Hinton has bravely come forward to tell her story
Sara Hinton has bravely come forward to tell her story

A woman abused by her trampolining teacher as a child has spoken of her shock at finding out he had been reported to police for offences committed before she was even born.

Norman Hogbin was convicted and jailed for three charges of indecent assault against Sara Hinton, who has bravely waived her right to anonymity to tell her story.

Hogbin was eventually convicted at Chichester Crown Court

Hogbin was eventually convicted at Chichester Crown Court

The offences took place over a three-year period and began when she was just eight years old.

The abuse happened nine years after Hogbin had been reported to police and social services for the abuse of Kim Mitchell, herself a schoolgirl at the time.

Sara said: “I do not understand why they did not listen to that child at the time. I question what my life could have been like now.”

READ MORE: Woman abused by schoolteacher is denied compensation

I was uncomfortable with it but I just tried to block it out and pretend everything was normal and fine

Sara Hinton

Sara, who now lives in East Preston and is 27, said: “I did gymnastics and trampolining as a child and one of the coaches grew close with the family.

“He ended up babysitting a couple of times. He touched me.

“I knew it wasn’t right. I was uncomfortable with it but I just tried to block it out and pretend everything was normal and fine.”

But Sara said she found it harder and harder to pretend everything was okay. In 2005, she plucked up the courage to tell her then-boyfriend, and later her parents and the police.

Sara criticised police after finding out that Hogbin had been reported in 1990

Sara criticised police after finding out that Hogbin had been reported in 1990

“Mum came and hugged me and was crying her eyes out,” she said. “That same evening the police officer came round and took a statement. It was taken seriously straight away.”

The case was brought before Chichester Crown Court, but after hearing all the evidence the jury could not reach a verdict.

Sara was told there could be a retrial, but that she did not have to go through it all again.

But she said: “It was gutting but I just wanted to make sure I did all I could to make sure he didn’t have access to anyone else.”

After a retrial, Hogbin was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and was sentenced in April 2007 to 18 months in prison, with a two-year extended licence period, police confirmed.

Since then, Sara has had counselling and is now a proud homeowner and is soon to be married.

But she said everything had come back to her in an emotional moment earlier this year, when she saw an article in the Herald about another survivor who waived her anonymity to tell her story, Kim Mitchell.

Kim told in the article how she reported Hogbin to the police and social services in 1990 after he indecently assaulted her.

Kim went to police multiple times but it was not until 2017 that Hogbin was finally jailed for his crime against her, police and the CPS confirmed.

Sara was born in 1991, the year after Kim had reported Hogbin to police.

Sara said: “I remember seeing the 1990 date and had to take a minute to compose myself. I had not even considered that my abuse could have been prevented.

“If they had taken Kim seriously then this guy would not have had access to children like myself.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Records of investigations for the period up to and including the 1990s are no longer held, so it is not possible to formally confirm that [the 1990] allegation was received and investigated at that time.”

Survivors of child sexual abuse can contact the Truth Project, which allows abuse survivors to tell their story in a supportive setting. Visit: truthproject.org.uk.

Anyone with questions about the story, or who would like to tell their own, can email the reporter: michael.drummond@jpress.co.uk