July 2001

Rapist gets 14 years jail

A FORMER deputy head of a Wirral care home who repeatedly raped a teenage girl and indecently assaulted three boys has been jailed for 14 years.

During a three-week trial Liverpool Crown Court heard that Richard Keith Sutton raped the girl when she was 19 at a Birkenhead flat into which he helped her move when she was left local authority care.

She became pregnant by father-of-three Sutton, who continued to take advantage of her and sexually molest her.

A jury of seven men and five women unanimously found Sutton guilty of three rapes and six indecent assaults against the girl, plus 10 charges of indecent assault against a 15-year-old boy and eight indecent assaults against a 14-year-old.

He was also convicted of buggery and three charges of assault against a 16-year-old boy by eleven to one majorities.

Sutton, who is known as Keith, originally faced a total of 47 charges spanning more than a decade to December, 1993.

Sutton, 58, of Cheapside, Formby, who has no previous convictions, denied all charges.

Judge Lewis told him, “You have been convicted on clear evidence of serious sexual offences against four children while placed by this community in care.

“You have showed not the slightest remorse for your activities over that period.

“You were a house master. The children and young people placed in your charge and care were already damaged and vulnerable by virtue of having emerged in many cases from uncaring, fractured families.

“The last thing they needed was to be the subject of your sexual degredation. It really was the stuff of childhood nightmares come true. These were grave, persistent breaches of trust.”

Sutton, who sat emotionless throughout, was also ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

The court heard that between July 1976 and November 1981 Sutton worked at a home on Merseyside before becoming deputy head of a Wirral home until November 1987.

He then went to work at another Merseyside home until March 1990, before becoming the head of another Merseyside children’s home, from where he has been on suspension since his arrest in 1999 as a result of Merseyside Police’s Operation Care.

Far from providing care and protection in a safe environment for the four vulnerable adolescents Sutton systematically abused them for his own sexual gratification, said Mr David Aubrey, QC, prosecuting.

Sutton, however, told the court he had not abused any of the children and could think of ‘no reason whatsoever’ why the allegations had been made.

Afterwards, DCI Francis Youell, head of Operation Care, said: “The result today is a satisfactory conclusion. The behaviour of Mr Sutton is not acceptable today and was not acceptable 10 or 20 years ago.

“I would like to thank the witnesses who came forward and were prepared to give evidence in difficult circumstances. The public can be assured that we will not hesitate to investigate and take action in all abuse reported to us.