A 101-year-old man has become the oldest person to be jailed for a criminal offence in UK legal history after a West Midlands Police investigation uncovered his shocking child abuse past.
Retired lorry driver Ralph Clarke systematically sexually assaulted two young sisters in the 1970s and early 80s.
He abused the girls – who were aged between four and 13 at the time – at his home in Erdington, in the cab of his works truck, and in his garden shed.
His victims plucked up the courage to report the offences to West Midlands Police in August last year having seen Facebook posts celebrating Clarke’s 100th birthday.
The enquiry established a catalogue of offending against the girls spanning many years and revealed their brother had also suffered at Clarke’s hands.
Clarke admitted several indecent assaults, gross indecency and attempted buggery against a boy but denied 22 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency against the girls.
He claimed the women – now in their late 40s – were serial liars but a jury at Birmingham Crown Court ton Friday 16 Dec deemed he was lying in a bid to cover up his sex attacks and found him guilty on all but one count.
He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and will be placed on the sex offender register for life.
Detective Constable Emma Fennon from West Midlands Police’s Historic Sex Offences Unit, said: “I’d like to welcome the decision of the jury in convicting Ralph Clarke today.
“He subjected three young children − who were aged between 4 and 13-years-old at the time − to unspeakable abuse over many years. He took advantage of their vulnerability and they have lived with the emotional and psychological scars from that abuse for decades.
“Thankfully, today, justice has finally caught up with him.
“There are people who may question the public interest in taking a man aged 101 to court. What I’d say is that age alone should be no defence. We worked closely with colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service and Clarke’s age and wellbeing were considered.
“But given the serious nature of the offences, the breach of trust and vulnerability of the young victims, it was decided that a prosecution was in the public interest.
“We at West Midlands Police will always be guided by the wishes of victims. His victims took the brave step to disclose what had happened to them − and they needed to see him pay for what he’d subjected them to.
“We have supported them through the criminal process and I’m delighted that they have now seen justice prevail. They have sat through all of the evidence and I know at times it has been difficult for them.
“This case goes to show that it is never too late to report sexual offences − even if the abuse happened may years, even decades, earlier we can still put compelling cases to juries. West Midlands Police will always take reports seriously and do all we can to support victims and punish offenders.
“And I’d finally like to pay tribute to the courage and determination of Ralph Clarke’s victims in coming forward and disclosing these offences to us.
I hope they can take some comfort from today’s verdict and finally move on with their lives.”
Source:: West Midlands Police News