Febuary 2011

I confronted my demons to snare child sex monster



A WOMAN who was raped repeatedly as a child, but kept the abuse secret for three decades until she found the courage to report her attacker, says she can now start living after he was jailed for 18 years.

Paedophile Keith Brown a former New Ollerton man, brutally molested seven youngsters in a reign of terror stretching from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Police were eventually alerted to his abuse in 2009.

And it was only during a long and painstaking inquiry that the scale and full horror of his depravity emerged.

Yesterday Brown, 68, was jailed after being found guilty at an earlier trial of 19 counts of indecent assault and five of rape. Judge Andrew Hamilton described him as “disgusting and despicable” and said he had an appalling effect on the lives of his victims, who had been between 12 and 16 years old.

The woman who tipped off detectives spoke of her relief as Brown, formerly of Ray Street, Heanor, was driven away in a prison van to begin his sentence.

“It is like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “No jail term will ever be long enough but compared to other sentences handed out this is a long one and reflects the gravity of what he has done.

“He has lived his life how he has wanted to all this time – perhaps now we will get the chance to start living ours.”

The court heard that Brown had at various stages acted as a Scout leader and foster carer, although there was no suggestion that he accessed any of his victims through these avenues.

Now I can finally start a life that belongs to me

The stench of snuff and body odour reminds Leanne of Keith Brown and is enough to make her physically sick.

It takes her back to a time when she should have been enjoying a carefree, innocent childhood like her friends at school.

But instead, for four years from the age of 12, she was violated by a man who was seen as a pillar of the community.

To the outside world, Brown was a Scout leader and foster carer.

But to Leanne and six other youngsters, he was a depraved monster who used their young bodies for his sexual gratification.

His crimes were committed in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s but only uncovered in 2009 when Leanne – not her real name – plucked up the courage to come forward.

She and each of the other victims had thought they were the only ones that had been abused and each had kept their terrible secret, too afraid and ashamed to tell the police.

But when Leanne discovered that Brown had molested others, she finally felt she had no choice but to go to the authorities.

“Over the years I had learned to suppress as much as possible,” she said.

“But when I found out, there was no option but to go to the police.

“I was mortified. Now I knew that I was not the only one who had their childhood innocence stolen.

“It was March 2, 2009, when I walked into the police station at around 7.30pm and rang the bell.

“The policeman said ‘can I help?’ and I said ‘ I don’t know, I think I need to report a crime and I don’t know where to start.”

What police then found was truly horrifying.

Earlier this month, jurors convicted Brown of 19 counts of indecent assault and five of rape. During a seven-day trial at Derby Crown Court, they were told that he abused one of his victims on his wedding night – February12, 1972.

He then raped Leanne when his wife, Delia, was in hospital, having lost her new-born baby that same morning.

Leanne said: “From what I can gather, at this stage he was already abusing others. It seems he has an age group which he likes.”

Leanne said Brown kept her quiet by threatening her and telling her no one would believe her.

She said the matter-of-fact way in which Brown would act after molesting her was particularly chilling.

“There was no recognition, no hint of acknowledgement, he would just go and put the kettle on.”

But the effects of her abuse have left her emotionally scarred. She has suffered with depression and attempted suicide.

She said: “It made me feel disgusting and ashamed.

“It has also made me obsessed with personal hygiene. I often shower three or four times a day.

“If I get the slightest hint of snuff, pipe tobacco and body odour, I vomit. I associate him with that smell.”

But she said she got some comfort when Brown was convicted of his crimes.

She said: “There was no relief for me until then. I spent my whole life being told that I was not going to be believed and to have 12 strangers stand up and say ‘we believe you’ – I cannot describe how that feels, after all these years.”

But she said it could have been a different story if she had not been given the support she needed from Derbyshire police and Derbyshire Rape Crisis.

“From the very first police officer I saw when I reported it – if he had handled it even slightly differently I don’t think I would have gone ahead with it.

He did not judge me and took everything I said very seriously.

“I have so many people to thank for getting me this far.”

And she said she was pleased with the sentence handed down to Brown and hoped it would give other victims of historical abuse the courage to come forward.

She said: “I now want to start a life that is mine rather than one that is in his control. Rather than looking over my shoulder, I can now walk about freely.”

Jailing Brown, Judge Andrew Hamilton described him as “disgusting and despicable.”

He also praised the victims for their courage. He said to Brown: “It’s absolutely appalling how you affected their lives, each and every one of them has had their lives changed.

“Each of these people thought they were the only one. They did not realise that a secret they had all hidden for years was a secret they could have shared with others.”

Judge Hamilton said Brown did not have the courage to plead guilty, despite the “mass of evidence” against him. As a result, his victims had been forced to give evidence.

“They have been questioned and cross-examined and suggested that they made it all up.

“I can only imagine how much worse that made them feel – to feel they are being called liars in front of 12 strangers. But it shows to me that you have not a jot of remorse at all.”

Afterwards, Detective Constable Claire McKeown, the investigating officer, welcomed the sentence.

She said: “It’s been a very distressing process for all concerned. However, I hope this positive result will encourage other victims of similar abuse to come forward and report matters to the police regardless of when it happened.”

The Crown Prosecution Service’s chief prosecutor in Derbyshire, Brian Gunn, said it had been a “complex” case.

“It was thanks to the victims’ courage and willingness to give evidence that Keith Brown has been brought to justice for the crimes he committed.”