October 2007

Rape jail sentence doubled

A window cleaner has today had his jail sentence doubled for raping a ten-year-old.

Keith Fenn was sentenced to two years for raping the youngster but three Court of Appeal judges were asked to take another look after the Attorney General ruled the prison term was unduly lenient.

Fenn, 24, was sentenced in June at Oxford Crown Court by Judge Julian Hall after pleading guilty to two charges of rape.

Because of the amount of time he had already spent in prison awaiting sentence, Fenn, of Blackbird Leys, Oxford, had a release date of October 19.

At an earlier hearing, Lord Justice Latham, Mr Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Pitchford, were told on Fenn’s behalf that he had “genuinely” believe,d the girl was 16.

However this morning the judges at the Court of Appeal have ruled the sentence was too soft and have doubled it.

Lord Justice Latham ruled that the correct sentences for Fenn, had he not pleaded guilty, would have been at least six years. However, after giving credit for his admission, he fixed the new jail term at four years.

Lord Justice Latham said Fenn’s case raised the question of what sentences should be passed in cases where girls under the age of 13 “ostensibly consent” to sex and their abusers genuinely believe they are aged over 16.

The crimes committed by Fenn were “absolute offences” as the law states that children under the age of 13 cannot consent to any form of sexual activity.

In Fenn’s case, the judge said his victim was “a very damaged and vulnerable” 10-year-old who was at the time in local authority care.

Although her academic performance was at the level of an eight-year-old, she was tall, physically mature for her age and “could pass for someone much older”.

“She also dressed and made herself up in a way which further disguised her real age”.

Although she was still a virgin, her grandparents had, on the day she met Fenn, given her a set of lacy pink underwear, including a thong, which she had put on.

That evening, she absconded and met Fenn, then 24, and another man, sitting drinking beer on a bench. Asking them for a cigarette, she told the men she was 16 and had been thrown out of her home by her boyfriend.

Fenn took her to a recreation ground where they had sex. He did not wear a condom and the girl’s first experience of sex caused her acute pain.

The girl later told police: “I know I shouldn’t have done, but I did.

“My head was in two different places at the time. One was in go, and one was in turn-back. Three-quarters of it was go”.

When asked if she had consented to sex with Fenn, she said: “I don’t actually know”, but she accepted that Fenn “probably did” believe that she was willing.

However, upping Fenn’s sentence, Lord Justice Latham said he “gave no thought” to how old she was and had been “lulled into a false sense of security” not only by her looks, but by her accountof having been thrown out by her boyfriend.

“But she was nevertheless young and the offender was 24. As to consent, this was an opportunistic piece of sexual gratification”, the judge added.

“This is classically the sort of circumstance in which young girls require the protection of the courts in the form of significant sentences.

“The offences were aggravated by the fact that she was a virgin and the offender ejaculated and did not use a condom”.

Lord Justice Latham said a six-year sentence would have been appropriate in Fenn’s case had he not pleaded guilty. However, given his admissions, his new sentence was fixed at four years.