A former martial arts trainer was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court to 28 years in prison today, Thursday 3 November, following a 30-year campaign of sexual abuse against girls.

From Devon & Cornwall Police:

Derek Hodder, aged 66 and from Garlic Rae, Brixham, was found guilty on Friday 10 June of 33 counts of rape, eight of indecent or sexual assault, four of sexual activity with a child, and three indecencies with a child.

The abuse, which spanned over three decades between 1986 and 2018, would often take place at his home or in his vehicles and would usually start with Hodder offering to give the girls massages which then progressed into further sexual abuse.

The court heard that many of Hodder’s victims had come into contact with him through a Devon martial arts club. Hodder had groomed and manipulated the victims often buying them elaborate gifts and alcohol.

Throughout the seven-week trial, Hodder maintained his innocence stating that all nine victims had made the claims up insisting that three of the girls were over the age of 16 when he had had sex with them. However, the jury found him guilty of 33 offences including multiple counts of rapes, and he was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing.

The court heard seven victim personal statements which were read out in court. One victim stated how Hodder’s abuse had left her suffering with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. She closed her statement stating that she was proud that she had been brave enough to come forward and break the cycle of abuse and bring about closure.

Judge Timothy Rose said: “I am acutely aware of the dreadful impact on the victims and have taken into account their statements- they gave an eloquent and powerful voice to the harm caused.” The judge sentenced Hodder to 28 years, to serve a minimum of 18 years and eight months before being considered for release on licence.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Jerry Godfrey said: “This is the outcome of a four-year investigation by specialist officers within Torbay’s Public Protection Unit [PPU] who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the victims received some sense of justice.

“Whilst the sentence is significant and reflects the gravity of offending, it is not lost on me that the impact of Hodder’s horrific conduct will have a life-long effect on all of the victims involved.

“Hodder demonstrated he is a very dangerous human being, utilising his position within the community and taking advantage of these young girls whose safe spaces were compromised by his predatory behaviour.

“I commend the victims for their strength of character, resolve and their ongoing support and trust with the investigation to seek justice. I hope that today’s sentencing can provide them with a sense of closure and comfort that he can no longer harm them, or anyone else, in this abhorrent way.”

Derek Hodder, convicted today

“Devon and Cornwall Police are committed to supporting survivors of rape and serious sexual assault. I hope the outcome of this investigation shows that time isn’t a barrier, and no matter how long ago an offence took place, we will always fully investigate these types of crimes.

“I would urge any victims to please come forward and talk to us. We have specially trained officers who work closely with partner organisations to provide support to victims and witnesses through every step of the criminal justice process, from the time of reporting right thought to the trial and beyond.”

The officer in the case [OIC] Detective Constable Diane Gaze said: “I am very relieved for all the victims and their families that this case has finally reached its conclusion.

“I have been the OIC for the whole investigation since the first victim came forward in February 2018 and feel privileged to have worked with each of these brave women and to have achieved a sense of justice.

“Most of the victims were adults when they came forward to speak with the police and it has been a difficult process to put themselves through. Their assistance was imperative to this investigation.

“I hope that the courage that they have shown in supporting this process throughout might convince others in a similar position to come forward and have their voices heard.”

Lisa Cassidy, District Crown Prosecutor for the CPS South West Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, said:

“Hodder’s work as a martial arts coach gave him access to young children and he exploited this over many years. He showed a clear pattern of abuse, grooming young girls and encouraging them to distance themselves from the adults in their lives.

“I would like to commend and thank the victims for their strength in coming forward to support this prosecution and in telling what happened to them.

“The CPS worked closely alongside our partners in Devon and Cornwall Police to build the strongest possible case against Hodder to ensure he was held responsible for these devastating crimes.

“The CPS is committed to delivering justice for the victims of rape and sexual assault. We want every victim to have the confidence that their case will be fully investigated by the police and that, in every case where our legal tests are met, the Crown Prosecution Service will charge and prosecute.”

If you require help or assistance relating to sexual abuse please take a look at the below list of helplines.

In an emergency always call 999 and in a non-emergency please visit www.dc.police.uk/contact.

  • National Rape Crisis Helpline: 0808 802 9999
  • Devon and Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC): 0300 3034626
  • Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Independent Sexual Advisor Service: 03458 121212
  • Victim Care Unit: 01392 475900
  • Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services: 01392 204 174

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