Child abuser Neil Townsend behind bars after victim confronts him

Hampshire company director who sexually abused seven girls is behind bars after he was confronted by one of his devastated victims ten years after his crimes. Shamed Neil Townsend only handed himself into police when he feared his sordid secret would be revealed. The 63-year-old confessed he crept into children’s bedrooms to touch them while they slept. He even gave police the names of his seven victims – one who later tried to kill herself after she struggled to cope with the abuse. One of the girls – aged 13 – had been asleep when he indecently assaulted her and only found out she had been abused when police came to take her statement. Sheffield-born Townsend was the boss of Hythe -based team building and life coaching business Next Step. An active member of Waterside Tennis club he was the singer in Hythe band 2 Generations and 2nd Generation in the 90s, Southampton Crown Court was packed with his victims and their families to hear a judge jail ownsend for five years. The court heard Townsend had a predatory sexual interest in children. The victims wept as they relived their suffering and the effect it has had on their lives. Prosecutor Siobhan Linsley said one girl began self-harming, took an overdose and even tried to hang herself. Another who suffered repeated abuse over what the judge described a “significant period of time” developed post traumatic stress disorder and a condition where she pulled out her eyelashes and eyebrows from the stress. In a statement read to the court she said: “I lost a piece of me every time it happened.” In one of the counts he lured a girl onto his lap to write her Christmas list and indecently assaulted her. In another, he touched a 19-year-old’s thigh under the covers but he fled when she awoke and confronted him.In mitigation Rebecca Vanstone said Townsend felt “deep set remorse and regret for what he has done”. Townsend, of Onslow Road, Southampton, pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault and two further counts at a previous hearing. Judge Gary Burrell told him: “he fact is you do have a sexual interest in children and it was a predatory interest. You took advantage of these children to satisfy your own sexual appetite.” The judge added that the case was aggravated by the number of victims, his repeated abuse and the effect he has had on his victims’ lives. He added: “They now have to live with that for the rest of their lives.” If you have been subject to abuse then please contact us in the strictest of confidence Charles Derham 02392492472

Lisa has specialised in childhood abuse and social care negligence for the last 8 years and has extensive experience in relation to civil abuse litigation, CICA claim maximisation and Redress Scheme claims. She offers a sympathetic and professional approach to her clients’ problems and advises on funding options (including insurance and Conditional Fee Agreements.)

Since 2018 she has travelled around the country to see clients who were failed by Lambeth Council during their childhood in order to collate evidence for submission to the Lambeth Children’s Home Compensation Scheme. Lisa’s style of working is tailored to providing emotional support whilst applying the specialist legal expertise required to ensure her client’s have the best evidence for making a successful claim.

Lisa is able to access key psychiatric and social care experts to obtain evidence and therapy recommendations for clients. She can direct clients to treatment providers if required. Often such treatment costs can be claimed as part of the compensation process. This is a priority to ensure her clients have the best opportunity to make positive steps into the future. Lisa excels in applying questions to psychiatric experts to clarify and ensure they have a deeper understanding of the case issues where required. She is also experienced in negotiation to maximise outcome according to specific scheme terms.

For the last year and half, Lisa has been leading the firm’s participation in the National Abuse Inquiry specifically relating to the IICSA Lambeth investigation acting on behalf of 6 core participants. Such work involved the preparation of core participant applications, section 40 funding applications, detailed consideration of social care record evidence, witness statements preparation, attending preliminary hearings for consideration on the extent of other key party involvement, detailed work on documentary disclosure evidence from the council, police and other core participants to identify deep seated failings within the past care and policing systems, cross referencing, and work with counsel on composing Rule 10 questioning of corporate and police witnesses giving evidence at the IICSA Lambeth hearing. Lisa also accompanied a key core participant giving evidence to the IICSA hearing providing support and understanding to ensure her client’s evidence was sensitively taken into account when the panel make recommendations to protect children in the future. Questions were raised on the effectiveness of the current Serious Case Review system and how this has been operating within police and council’s across the country, something which has also been identified whilst working on specific civil cases. The hope is that improvements in the child protection mechanisms can ensure the safety of children in future.

Lisa also specialises in CICA claims, an area of work which has increased significantly following the lifting of the pre 1979 same home abuse rule which facilitated many victims being able to finally achieve justice relating to serious childhood abuse.

Lisa also has extensive particular experience in running civil claims relating to foster carer abuse, abuse in private/public/approved school institutions, church abuse, and abuse linked to gymnastics.

Her extensive knowledge of the Civil Procedure Rules, skills in evidence gathering and analysis of liability and causation, and experience in risk assessment and settlement negotiation make her a valuable asset to clients and colleagues alike.

Lisa has more than 20 years’ experience of dealing with Personal Injury matters ranging from road traffic accidents to workplace injury and liability.

Lisa is fluent in German and Persian. She also has experience in Civil Litigation regarding Debt Recovery, Breach of Contract, and Insolvency Law

Client testimonials

"Lovely, friendly, great people. Very understanding too and very good at what they do. Very happy with the result, many thanks again Lisa and everyone involved in my case."

"I would like to express my profound heartfelt gratitude to Lisa Gafarov for all her hard work and understanding when representing me. She fought passionately for my case for two years.

Within this time, never once did I feel it was about the money for her. She was very considerate and dealt with many personal matters in a caring and professional way. It was a very sensitive case but she put in a lot of hard work and went the extra mile each time. Her wide range of expertise was indispensable during this difficult time. Because of this I trusted all her advice and as a result, this took a lot of pressure off of me.

She managed to reach a very amicable conclusion between the defendants and myself. You don’t know how much your passion impacts the lives of others. For this I am forever grateful. I would recommend your firm a hundred times over."
Anonymous, April 2019

Lisa studied ‘Contract Law, European Law and Employment Law’ as part of her degree in BA (Hons) Business Administration. She has also studied other business subjects, including accounting.

Having completed her degree, Lisa started work for Verisona Law in November 1999 in the Personal Injury department as a Trainee Litigation Clerk and since then has developed extensive skills in relation to personal injury litigation and case preparation.

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Accidents at work
  • Slip and trip claims
  • Occupier’s liability claims
  • Product Liability claims
  • Industrial disease claims
  • Work related upper limb disorder claims
  • Clinical negligence, including amputation claims
  • Cosmetic surgery claims
  • Abuse claims

"Thank you for all your much appreciated hard work. I will truly never forget your kindness towards me. Your patience, respect and understanding at all times was beyond words. The sincere compassion shown meant more to me than words could ever express. This firm will forever hold a special place in my heart."


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