Family to move from Taunton home as attacker Thomas Harcombe leaves prison

This is The West Country: Harcombe was jailed at Taunton Crown Court in December. Harcombe was jailed at Taunton Crown Court in December.

THE family of a 13-year-old girl attacked by a man who lives nearby are selling their house to avoid bumping into him in the street.

Thomas Harcombe, 47, will be freed from prison later this month – halfway through a four-month sentence for common assault.

He is expected to return to his council flat in Burford Close, Taunton, although he is barred from another street where the girl lives.

Harcombe, who has a history of exposing himself in public and who received an ASBO in 2004, grabbed the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and chased after her as she ran home last June – but there was no sexual element to the latest offence.

He was imprisoned at Taunton Crown Court five days before Christmas.

The girl’s mother said: “That evil man’s making us move. We don’t want him living near us.

“We can’t live here knowing he’s so close “Before my daughter knew where he lived she regularly walked past his house to school.

“We’re finding it really hard – she saw him in the street days after the incident and collapsed with a panic attack.”

The mother described the impact the attack has had on her daughter.

She said: “When he chased her home she came in the door – seeing her face, I can’t explain it. She was shouting and couldn’t breathe properly.

“Even now she won’t go out on her own and won’t walk back from town alone.

“She gets nightmares and she’s having counselling.

“We keep wondering what would have happened if she hadn’t got away.”

Harcombe was ordered by the judge to pay his victim £260 compensation but her family are unsure what to do with the money.

The mother said: “It’s dirty money – a constant reminder of what that dirty man did and what could have happened.

“We’ve put the money in our daughter’s savings for the moment.

“I hate that man. He has gone to prison but we’re being punished knowing he can continue living nearby so we’re moving.”

Harcombe will be free to return to the Burford Close council flat.

A Taunton Deane Council spokeswoman told the County Gazette she could not comment on individual cases but the authority “takes the issue of anti-social behaviour very seriously” and would investigate any complaint alleging that a tenant had breached their tenancy conditions.

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