October 2010

Police praise bravery of victim as rapist is sent to prison for 17 years

Justice has finally caught up with a rapist who has been jailed for 17 years thanks to the bravery of his victim who endured years of abuse.

The victim, from East Devon, says she has suffered a “life sentence” because of James Bird’s crimes but now has hope for the future, following his conviction and prison sentence at Exeter Crown Court this week.

Bird knew the girl, from Honiton, and began abusing her when he had reason to be alone with her.

His crimes began when she was under 10 years old, in the 1980s, and continued for several years including repeated rapes.

He made threats to the girl including warning that nobody would believe her if she tried to seek help.

Jurors found him guilty of four rapes and two indecent assaults, at the court on Thursday following his trial.

Bird, of Churchinford, in Taunton, Somerset, had already pleaded guilty to six indecent assaults. He stared ahead without expression as he was sentenced.

The judge, Mr Justice Jack, told him: “The effect on her life was profound. In her police interview, she said ‘I don’t do emotion.’ She said she wished she had emotions.”

He added that the woman’s self-esteem had been seriously affected.

The judge also remarked that the charges were ‘specimen counts’ which were only examples of Bird’s repeated offences against the girl.

Detective Constable Perriam, of Tiverton CID, said after sentencing: “The victim has said what happened to her is a life sentence but she feels she can move on. She said that the last year has been a real struggle and she had felt like giving up but she’s over the moon at the verdict.”

Det Con Perriam also wanted to thank her colleague Detective Constable Alison Berry for her support. Bird was ordered to pay £5,000 costs which the judge said he could afford from the “substantial sum” he has sold his farm for.

The defendant must also put his details on the Sex Offender Register until further notice.

The prosecution did not proceed with a charge that Bird had a shotgun without a firearms certificate in Honiton last year.