Fugitive paedophile jailed for 16 years

PUBLISHED: 15:37 10 January 2013 | UPDATED: 15:37 10 January 2013

Archant

Former Honiton man David James fled to America and remarried when he realised his victims had found the courage to speak out.

A fugitive paedophile has been jailed for 16 years after being brought back from America more than 20 years after he abused two little girls.

David James, 61, moved to Florida and remarried when he learned that the two girls he molested in the 1980s and 1990s had started to reveal their ordeals.

He ensured their silence at the time with a mixture of threats and bribes but they found the courage to come forward after meeting each other five years ago and sharing their experiences.

A judge and the police yesterday (thurs) both praised their bravery as white-bearded James stood impassive in the dock as he was jailed.

His sentence ended a five year inquiry in which police traced him to Florida and then had to prepare exhaustive extradition paperwork.

James groomed both victims for sex after they went to his home in Honiton, Devon, to play with his five young sons. He started off by giving them piggy backs but progressed to touching and ever more serious sexual assaults.

He threatened them with physical violence if they revealed what he had done but also bribed them with sweets, treats, and money and even offered to buy a pony for one of the girls.

It ensured that the offences, which started 30 years ago, remained hidden for years. One of the victims broke down as she gave evidence and described James as ‘a monster’.

The conviction and sentence mean he may never be reunited with his American wife Peggy, aged 62, because he will not be allowed back into the States and she is a US citizen who cannot afford to come to Britain.

James, formerly of Livermore Road, Honiton, latterly of Skyline Drive, Orlando, Florida, denied two offences of rape and three indecent assaults on one girl who was aged seven to 11 and six offences of indecency against the second girl who was ten and 11.

He was found guilty of all counts and jailed for 16 years by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC at Exeter Crown Court. He was banned from unsupervised contact with children under a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and told to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

The judge told him: ”The delay in these proceedings, as was made perfectly clear by both complainants, because you threatened them with violence were they to report what you had done to them at a time when they were very young and vulnerable.

“It is entirely understandable they did not make a complaint much sooner and the fact you are now almost 62 must be borne against that fact.

“The effect on both girls has been considerable and is entirely understandable. Both were very courageous when it came to giving evidence.

“This was very serous offending, including a rape of a girl of seven or eight when she came to your home to play with your children.”

After the case, Detective Constable Claire Ware said: ”The victims and their families are very relieved at the outcome of this case and agree with everything said by the judge.

“The police would like to commend the bravery of the two victims and the courage they have shown in giving very difficult evidence and we hope they will be able to find some closure now.”

In the four day case the jury heard how both victims tried to tell their parents at the time but were not able to reveal the truth and kept their secret until they met by chance in Honiton in 2007.

Both had been abused after going to James’ home in Honiton, where he turned his attentions to the younger victim after the first stopped going to his house.

HGV mechanic James moved to America and remarried ten years after learning that one of the girls had made a partial disclosure about his abuse.

He told the jury: ”I went to America with my partner Peggy, who is American and who I married more than ten years ago. For the last ten years I have lived in Florida.

“The first I knew of the extradition proceedings was when I was arrested last year. It was a complete shock to me but I agreed to come back to the UK voluntarily.

“Since moving to Florida I have been working as an HGV technician, supervising a workshop.”

He said he had no idea why the two women had made their allegations against him and said his only contact with them was when he gave them piggy back rides in his garden.

He said at the time he was working for Express Dairies in Honiton and living in a three-bedroomed semi with a large garden which was overlooked by at least five houses.

He knew the girls because they came to play with his sons but insisted he had never touched them sexually.

He said: ”They are not telling the truth. I have never had any sexual interest in young girls. I did not move to America because I was worried about bumping into people who could remember things.”

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