78-year-old convicted of child sex attacks dating back 60 years

 

A former serviceman was today found guilty of sexually assaulting four young girls.

Reginald Davies, 78, committed the offences between 1949 and 1973 in what is believed to be one of the oldest criminal cases in UK legal history.

The Welshman was convicted of 13 offences, including rape, over the 24-year period in South Wales.

Two of his victims broke down in tears as the verdict was read out at Kingston Crown Court.

During the trial, prosecutor Hanna Llewellyn-Waters said Davies "preyed on the innocence" of the four girls, leaving them to carry the burden for the rest of their lives.

"You relied on their fear that they would not be believed and told them that they would be taken away from everything they loved," she added.

The former miner, who was extradited from Western Australia in September last year, told the court that the four women - who cannot be named for legal reasons - were in "collusion" and lying.

The pensioner was arrested last July at his adopted home of Wanneroo on Australia's west coast after the allegations were reported in the UK in 2008.

He was found guilty of two charges of child rape, two charges of attempted rape, eight counts of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child. He was cleared of one charge of child rape and one charge of attempted rape.

Davies served with the Royal Engineers and the Royal Dragoons before leaving the Army in 1957.

Judge Susan Tapping said Davies - who has been living in Hertfordshire with his wife - would have to sign the sex offenders' register, and adjourned sentencing until Friday.

After the verdict, Mark Kimsey, defending, told the court Davies suffered from problems with his kidneys and blood pressure.

He said he intended to mention his client's age and health issues during mitigation.

Judge Tapping told him: "I will await your submissions as to how much discount - of what would otherwise be a very substantial sentence - he is entitled to."

Mr Kimsey also described the defendant and his wife as "inconsolable". He asked for his client to be bailed until sentencing to allow him to "get his house in order".

But the judge replied: "In the circumstances, the defendant will be remanded in custody for sentencing on Friday morning."

Davies, of Esbies Estate, Sawbridgeworth, near Bishop's Stortford, committed some of the offences when he was 15.

Hilary Ryan, senior Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer, said: "This is one of the oldest cases of historic sexual abuse and rape ever prosecuted by the CPS, dating back to 1949.

"I hope this conviction serves as an important message to people who have been the victim of crimes such as these that they should come forward regardless of when the offence occurred.

"The CPS will work closely with partners to ensure that robust criminal cases are put before the courts.

"Davies' prolonged campaign of sexual abuse and rape against these women, who were just children at the time, carried on for more than 20 years. The emotional impact on his victims is impossible to quantify.

"The CPS worked closely with the police in Britain and authorities in Australia to extradite Davies to face trial and today a jury has ensured that he will face justice for his crimes.

"I would like to pay tribute to the victims in this case and their strength in coming forward after so many years. This has clearly been a difficult time for them, but I hope this successful conviction provides them with some comfort."

PA

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