Friday, June 13, 2014
A 94-year-old man who sexually abused a schoolgirl is believed to be the oldest sex offender to be jailed in the UK after a judge sentenced him to 12 months for his “vile crimes” committed four decades ago,
Frederick Smith, who uses a walking frame, was accompanied to Ipswich Crown Court from his Suffolk care home for his sentencing hearing by a carer and a social worker and was taken from court to begin his sentence at Norwich prison in a wheelchair.
Smith, who formerly worked for Premier Travel in Haverhill, admitted four offences of indecent assault between 1972-1982 and one offence of indecency with a child between 1972-76 at an earlier hearing. Sentence was adjourned until yesterday to see if the prison service could accommodate his “extensive personal needs”.
Sentencing Smith, of Place Court Care Home in Camps Road, Haverhill, Judge David Goodin described his offences as “vile”.
“As frail as you are, bent over your Zimmer frame, justice cries out that you be sent to prison for your crimes,” he said, adding that Smith’s sex crimes had a “devastating and lasting” effect on his victim.
He said medical reports showed that for his age Smith “wasn’t in bad shape”.
“You need help with stairs, bathing and dressing but otherwise your memory is not bad and you can communicate clearly,” he added.
“This court is not in the business of passing cruel, degrading and inhumane sentences but to prison you must go,” Judge Goodin said.
“I’m told you have become depressed and withdrawn and I’m inclined to the view that at the age of 94 your remorse for what you have done is real.”
Hugh Vass, prosecuting, said the victim made a statement to police in July 2013.
She described being sexually assaulted by Smith in a shack used by by bus drivers for refreshment breaks.
Smith had got the schoolgirl to sit next to him and then touched her between the legs when one of his colleagues briefly left the room.
She said Smith had sexually assaulted her on a number of occasions over a period of years and she had feared he would kill her if she said anything.
On one occasion she saw him in his garden and when she threatened to reveal what he had done to her he had thrown a pair of garden shears at her, narrowly missing her.
Smith had also sexually abused her while giving her a lift in his car and had got her to perform sex acts on him.
Joanne Eley, for Smith, said he was deeply remorseful and regretted what he had done, adding: “He feels dirty and ashamed.”
She said that Smith had asked her to tell the court he knew he had done “bad things” and was “very, very sorry”.