July 2010

Child rape victim offers hope to others after finding courage to report sex fiend

“FINALLY now I feel safe.”

These were the words of 84-year-old Roland Smith’s rape victim after he was jailed for eight years – more than 40 years after committing his monstrous crimes.

An 84-year-old great-grandfather has been jailed for eight years for raping a girl almost 40 years ago.

Wheelchair-bound Roland Harry Smith was found guilty by a jury of twice raping the child in 1970, when she was 12 or 13.

His family knew what had happened but chose to ignore it, Leicester Crown Court was told.

Judge Mark Rogers told the pensioner: “It was brushed under the carpet by you and your family, who ought to examine their consciences.

“Watching her now, a woman in her 50s, giving evidence, it was deeply upsetting.

“This course of conduct is as real to her now as it was then.”

Smith denied twice raping the girl claiming that she consented – an old defence in law which applied at the time.

The sex attacks happened at Smith’s former home in Bassett Avenue, Countesthorpe.

When the child mentioned overhearing a conversation about how babies were made, Smith told her: “Go to the shed and I’ll show you.”

Smith, who was 44-year-old sewerage farm worker at the time, also raped her again when they were alone in a house and she was in her school uniform.

Years later, he rang her to say he had found God and asked for forgiveness.

She had already told friends and her husband about what had happened to her, but it still haunted her.

Smith who later moved to Cashell, Tipperary, Ireland, was arrested in December, 2008, after the victim finally told police.

In interview, he accepted having sexual intercourse but denied rape, telling officers: “She were loving it.”

During the trial, the victim wept when cross-examined.

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Rogers said: “The victim was entirely innocent and sexually unaware and she was just a normal schoolgirl.

“She made an innocent inquiry about sexual reproduction and you took that as your opportunity, not once but twice to exploit her innocence.

“What followed was degrading and disgusting.

“The sexual intercourse was cold, mechanical and you had cynical disregard for her.

“It was undoubtedly physically painful for her but, much more than that, emotionally painful.

“The jury rejected your claim she initiated sexual conduct.

“Let us hope it gives her some closure. The passage of time has done little to mitigate the effect upon the victim and these crimes but it’s a factor I have to bear in mind.”

The judge said Smith had been of otherwise good character and, but for his frailty and age, would have received a sentence of 12 or 13 years.

Smith must now sign the sex offenders register for life.

Gary Short, in mitigation, said: “But for these two incidents, he’s led a blameless life and been a hard-working devoted family man – a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and you can see even today he has the support of his family.

“The sentence will have a significant impact upon him, but also his family.”