Child rapist who faked disability by pretending to be incontinent and making unintelligible noises jailed

George Stephenson was convicted of 14 accounts of rape

Wil Crisp
Thursday 11 April 2019 11:17
George Stephenson's performance in court was described as "Oscar-winning"
George Stephenson's performance in court was described as "Oscar-winning"

A child rapist who almost escaped punishment after he tricked a judge and two psychiatrists into thinking that he was severely disabled, has been jailed for more than 26 years.

George Stephenson pretended he could not speak and made unintelligible noises during consultations. Pushed in a wheelchair by his wife, he also pretended to be incontinent and appeared unable to follow proceedings.

But when police later carried out covert surveillance on the 60-year-old, they found he was capable of driving a camper van, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

They also filmed him walking, eating a burger at a service station and filling up a can of petrol.

When officers went to arrest him at his home in Sunderland, he managed to climb on a shed roof and held them off for an hour as he brandished a piece of wood.

Footage from an officer's body worn camera showed him arguing forcefully with the police as they tried to get him to come down.

Stephenson was jailed for 26 years and four months after he was convicted of 14 counts of rape on a girl.

He also admitted to a charge of perverting the course of justice.

His wife Wendy Stephenson, 68, who helped in his deception, was jailed for three years and 10 months after she admitted perverting the course of justice and two sexual offences.

Anne Richardson, prosecuting, said when his victim came forward in 2015, police did not initially interview Stephenson such was his "supposed cognitive impairment".

The following year the couple appeared before a judge at Newcastle Crown Court and George Stephenson was in a wheelchair pushed by his wife and "presented as someone who was completely incapable of comprehending anything, let alone court proceedings", Ms Richardson said.

Calling him a "complete fraud", she said his performance in court "Oscar-winning".

A psychiatrist for the defence had a consultation with him, in which the wife provided all the information "as it was impossible to interview Mr Stephenson due to his level of distress and lack of communication", the court heard. She also claimed he needed 24 hour care.

A prosecution psychiatrist was instructed and Stephenson made unintelligible sounds throughout, so it was concluded he was unfit to stand trial.

In November 2017 a jury found he had committed the sexual acts as alleged.

Sentencing was adjourned pending the outcome of his wife's trial for sexual offences, but it was said it was unlikely he would have been jailed due to his supposed disability.

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Afterwards Wendy Stephenson admitted two counts of indecent assault.

Before she was sentenced however, she told police her husband had faked his disability, leading them to carry out the covert surveillance operation.

He then had to be tried for the rapes and was convicted last month, having forced his victim to give evidence twice.

Judge Tim Gittins said Stephenson suffered from epilepsy, a mild tremor and walked with a limp.

He added: "It has been manifestly exaggerated by you for prolonged periods and it is difficult to unpick the layers."