July 2016

Pensioner found guilty over child rapes

A MAN of 70 is facing a lengthy prison sentence after being found guilty of a campaign of sexual abuse and rape against a girl four decades ago.

Reginald Styles, from Hartlepool, was yesterday convicted of 11 of the 13 serious charges he faced during a week-long trial at Teesside Crown Court.

He was remanded in custody by Judge Stephen Ashurst until he is sentenced – on a date yet to be fixed – so reports can be prepared on the pensioner.

Styles denied six charges of indecency with a child, four counts of rape and three of indecent assault. He was found guilty of all but two sexual assaults.

His victim – who was a schoolgirl at the time, living in Stockton – claimed he also beat her with a bamboo pole when she rejected his advances.

Now a mother, the woman went to the police when she no longer feared the threats he made about people close to her dying if she ever disclosed the abuse.

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby said in his closing speech to the jury that the victim had “a stunningly accurate memory” of what had happened to her years ago.

The court heard how she “opened up” to her husband after years together, confiding that she had been abused as a child, but refused to say the man’s name.

He said that he noticed she got distressed if they were watching television and a scene involved rape, and she demanded that the programme was switched over.

In a written statement to the jury, he said: “Over the years, she spoke to me about it, but never in great detail.

“She would scream out in her sleep sometimes, and would shout out as though she was being attacked. When I woke her she was visibly frightened.”

The victim recalled how the repeated rapes and sexual assaults seemed “normal” to her, until she reached an age when she knew it was wrong.

Rod Hunt, for Styles, of Thetford Road, Hartlepool, said: “It is almost outrageous to say it, but it is not a story based in truth. People do make stories up.”

The jury – which had been considering its verdicts since Thursday afternoon – rejected Styles’s account that the allegations were made up out of spite.

The jury has already heard the victim could not bear any mention of her attacker’s first name in later years and any mention of it would cause her to “shudder”.

When as interviewed by police, she asked if she could refer to Reginald Styles as just “him”.

Mr Cleasby said Styles “emotionally manipulated” the youngster, by telling her people close to her would die if she ever revealed what he had done.

He told the jury: “The detail cannot be fabricated. She recalls being beaten by this cane. If the allegation was false, why introduce that piece of evidence?

“Her account is graphic and it is detailed.”