January 2011

Child rapist who threatened victims sentenced to 20 years in prison

A 61-year-old child rapist has been jailed for 20 years for the sexual abuse of children.

Rodney Knowles, a former lorry driver, was found guilty of eight counts of rape, 15 counts of indecency with a child and seven indecent assaults dating back up to 30 years, by a jury on Thursday. One of his victims was aged just six.

Yesterday Judge Paul Darlow ordered Knowles, who had denied all the charges, to serve two decades behind bars, saying he had “groomed” the victims and frightened them by making threats to harm them or others.

The grey-haired defendant, who walks with the aid of sticks, appeared unmoved when the sentence was passed. It followed a week-long trial at the end of which Knowles, of Buckland Brake, Newton Abbot, was convicted in less than three hours.

Andrew Oldland, representing Knowles, said his client had no relevant previous convictions.

He said Knowles had had surgery on his stomach and the prison regime would make it difficult for him to adapt his dietary needs.

The trial had previously heard how the victims had been left traumatised by the offences and had waited many years before finding the courage to speak to police.

Knowles had denied all the charges, saying they were “dramatic” and lies. He was given 18 years for the rapes; two years for the indecent assaults and 12 months concurrent for the rest.

Afterwards, DC Chris Amie of the Newton Abbot child protection team said: “We are very pleased with the sentence but more than anything I am pleased for the victims who lived with his crimes for many years and feared they might never be able to get justice.