Carer jailed for indecent assaults on handicapped

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A FORMER senior instructor at a day centre for mentally handicapped adults was jailed for five years yesterday after being convicted of indecently assaulting two women in his care.

Norman Richardson, 57, of Bromham, near Devizes, Wiltshire, had denied 14 charges relating to four mentally handicapped women and one of assaulting a female colleague.

He was found guilty of assaulting two of the women and his colleague after a week-long trial at Swindon Crown Court last month. Sentencing him yesterday, Judge John McNaught said: 'These were sexual assaults on vulnerable people. Decent people can only find that abhorrent.'

The judge ordered that further allegations made against Richardson involving others at the Ashton Street centre in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, where he was employed, should be allowed to lie on file.

During the trial, John Royce, for the prosecution, said the women had been 'the almost perfect' victims.

'They would not challenge or ask the same sort of questions as normally developed people would,' he said.

Richardson, a former Army quartermaster sergeant who had been commended by the Saudi Arabian government during his service, had worked at the Ashton Street centre for 13 years.

Rod Denyer QC, for the defence, said the offences probably started in the 1980s following marital difficulties after his wife fell ill. He said Richardson's wife of 27 years now wanted nothing more to do with him.

Detective Constable David Martin, the investigating officer who became involved in the case the day after he joined the CID, was commended by the judge for his skill in helping to bring the case to court.

During the proceedings, the alleged victims had given evidence from behind screens so that they would not have to confront Richardson.

Since the case came to light early last year, Wiltshire County Council has renewed its guidelines for staff in dealing with complaints of alleged assaults made by the mentally handicapped.

It has encouraged reporting of alleged incidents as soon as possible.