May 2012

OAP gets 16 years for sex attacks

A PARISH hall caretaker who carried out a string of sex attacks on young girls in a garden hot tub has been jailed for 16 years.

Denis Portman, aged 77, of Old Malvern Road, Powick, was convicted by a jury last month of eight rapes and eight other indecency crimes.

He shook violently in the dock at Worcester Crown Court as Judge John Cavell told him he had carried out “the most appalling abuse” on a schoolgirl when she was aged between 11 and 14 and who was now being treated in a psychiatric unit.

Portman also groped two 15-year-old French students who were staying at the pensioner’s home under a foreign exchange scheme.

The judge said: “This was one of the most serious cases of repeated sexual abuse that the court had heard for some considerable time. It’s difficult to imagine a greater betrayal of trust.”

He said the pensioner had threatened the schoolgirl to stop her revealing the attacks.

Portman must sign the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life and is banned from any contact with children younger than 16 under a sexual offences prevention order.

Two dock officers had to help Portman stand after the sentencing and supported him as he was escorted to cells.

Abigail Nixon, prosecuting, said the schoolgirl victim had gone into psychiatric care just days after being interviewed by police.

She had made three serious suicideattempts, one by drowning and the others by hanging. She had also self-harmed with a knife.

Miss Nixon said the victim bore no hostility towards Portman and did not want him jailed. Her mother was on medication for depression.

A paediatrician found “chronic changes” in the girl’s body which supported her account, said Miss Nixon.

The French students were molested in the hot tub in 2009 while they were wearing underwear.

They said the incidents had left them traumatised and feeling very badly ill at ease.

Portman, who has been married to his wife Marion for almost 40 years, carried out cleaning and caretaking tasks at Powick parish hall.

He told police he was incapable of having sex, having suffered from prostrate cancer. He branded the students rude trouble-makers and described how he had hosted students from all nations for 30 years.

Defence counsel Adam Western had argued that Portman’s risk to the public could be managed in the future by court orders rather than a prison sentence in the top bracket.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Mike Denman, of the public protection unit at Worcester CID, said the sentence was an excellent result.

“The victims were extremely brave in coming forward and seeing the prosecution through to its conclusion,” he said.