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Man found guilty of abusing six under-age girls
A DEVON man has been found guilty of abusing six under-age girls in a trial held in his absence at Exeter Crown Court.
Jurors yesterday unanimously found that Michael Collingwood, now 69, of Tedburn St Mary, near Exeter, committed 23 sex offences, including raping one girl.
Judge Paul Darlow instructed the jury to formally enter not guilty pleas to the other six sex offence allegations.
Jurors heard the trial in Collingwood’s absence after being told he suffers from severe dementia.
The jury forewoman, giving her verdicts, was required to say she found Collingwood “did the act charged” rather than being “guilty”, due to him not standing trial.
They were told, after the verdict, that he is currently in hospital under a Mental Health Act order, and his future will be decided at a further hearing.
He repeatedly abused six under-age girls in the 1980s and 1990s.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Wendy Fuller said after the verdict: “I want to pay credit to the immense bravery shown by the victims in coming to court and reliving the most traumatic experience of their childhood and beyond.
“I sincerely hope the result at court today will help them to somehow repair the considerable damage this depraved individual has caused.”
The court heard police investigated allegations involving four of the girls, in the 1990s, but the case was not brought to court.
A fresh investigation was launched last year after allegations were brought to light involving two other girls.
Collingwood called the rape victim a “good liar”, during that investigation.
Rape trial is shown DVD of interview
AN INTERVIEW has been played to a court of a woman telling police how her alleged rapist described her as ‘damaged goods’.
The jury yesterday watched a police video of one of six complainants being interviewed in the trial of 68-year-old Michael Collingwood, who is accused of 29 sex offences against underage girls.
The woman claimed that Collingwood repeatedly abused and raped her, while telling her sometimes that she was ‘special’ and on other occasions that she was ‘damaged goods” and only he cared about her.
Jurors have been told that the defendant, of Tedburn St Mary, near Exeter, is unfit to stand trial because of dementia and they must hear the evidence in his absence.
Collingwood has not entered formal pleas to the charges, which are ten indecent assaults and four rapes of one girl and three indecent assaults on each of the others.
He is accused of abusing the girls, aged from seven years old to their young teens at the time, in the 1980s and 1990s. The woman, during her police interview, said she met the defendant when she was around 13 or 14 years old, but he began to behave inappropriately.
She told police that Collingwood later found reasons to be alone with her and then repeatedly abused her.
“If I tried to stop him, he wouldn’t stop,” she said. “I’d try to push him.”
She added: “He was saying stuff: that I was special and he loved me and the rest of it.”
The woman said that when one of the alleged rapes took place someone else was nearby and was unaware of what was happening.
She told police: “He would say I was damaged goods… that the only one I could rely on was him.
“I supposed I thought all these years I was damaged goods.”
The court has already heard that Collingwood told police that this alleged victim was ‘a good liar and it’s a load of rubbish’, and replied ‘No comment’ to the other allegations.