June 2020

Reading Crown Court: Former Lambourn firefighter jailed for child sex offences

A former firefighter from Lambourn has been jailed for a total of 15 years for a catalogue of child sex offences spanning three decades.

Frederick Jefferies must spend at least half of that behind bars before he can even be considered for parole.

The 67-year-old, who lived at St Agnes Terrace, appeared for sentencing in the dock at Reading Crown Court on Friday, having been convicted in January of multiple charges of committing sex acts – including an attempted rape – on children as young as eight.

By denying all the offences, the retired window cleaner and former retained firefighter forced his victims to relive their ordeal from the witness box, some of whom had blamed themselves as children for Jefferies’ actions.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, some of those victims spoke of the “devastating” impact and “enormous trauma” his actions had visited upon their lives.

The court heard, however, that his wife was standing by him and character references described Jefferies as a man who was kind to neighbours.

Defence counsel John Lyons said: “There is nothing to suggest this is a defendant who seeks out opportunities to abuse children; there is no evidence he has visited chat rooms or websites seeking indecent images of children.”

He pleaded with the judge to temper any punishment with mercy, pointing out his client’s “advancing years and destroyed reputation” and asked her to consider the “effect of prison on  a man who can fairly be described as elderly and a simple man, who will be increasingly isolated as a result of his actions and the discovery of those actions”.

Mr Lyons reminded the judge of Jefferies’ service as a retained firefighter and described him as “a brave man; a religious man”.

He added: “He has a loyal wife… she is standing by him” and asked the judge to give Jefferies some hope for a life after prison that was not “isolated and institutionalised”.

Judge Heather Norton said Jefferies had no shown no remorse and that it was clear, given the 30-year span of the offences, that his deviant sexual drive was “persistent and remains unchanged”.

She sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment, with a two-year extended licence period.

The judge told Jefferies: “Half of those 15 years will be in custody before the case can be referred to the parole board to consider whether, and on what terms, you might be suitable for release.”

She said Jefferies would serve no more than 15 years in custody, but upon release will then serve “the remainder of the term, if any, and an additional period of two years on licence”.