December 2016

Paedophile found guilty of raping young girls

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A MAN convicted of raping and committing other sexual assaults on two schoolgirls while working as a farm labourer in the 1970s is facing, “a substantial sentence”.

The warning was given to now 66-year-old John Regan before he was led to the cells for the first time at Durham Crown Court following the return of unanimous jury verdicts on all 11 charges he was facing.

He denied four counts of rape, four of indecent assault and three of indecency with a child, all relating to girls aged between 10 and 14, committed in the early to mid-70s.

But, after more than three hours and 20 minutes’ deliberation, the jury foreman delivered the damning guilty verdicts on the sixth day of the trial.

Judge Simon Hickey remanded Regan, of High Etherley, Bishop Auckland, in custody, pending sentence early in the New Year.

But, he told the defendant: “You have been found guilty by unanimous verdicts.

“The two complainants, who have borne this abuse for so long, gave clear evidence and the jury have found you guilty on it.

“You’re now remanded in custody, but it will be a substantial sentence.”

Requesting preparation of a background report by the Probation Service on Regan, who is of previous good character, Judge Hickey said he wanted the author to specifically assess the perceived “dangerousness” of the defendant.

“I want to assess whether he poses a risk to other people, albeit these offences were committed many years ago.”

The judge also asked prosecuting barrister Richard Bennett and defence counsel Scott Smith for written submissions as to where the offending falls within the sentencing guidelines.

“It’s not an easy sentencing exercise and not something to be taken lightly.

“It’s something I’m going to have to consider at great length before deciding what to do.”

The verdicts were greeted with an emotional response in the public gallery by members of the Regan family who have supported him and been present throughout the trial.

Eleven character testimonials and references were presented to the court in person or read to the hearing, by family members, friends and other acquaintances, all speaking highly of someone they considered a trusted family man.

Some were from appreciative parents of youngsters who attended a gym club he ran for about 18 years.

Regan, who will now be subject to registration as a sex offender, will be sentenced on Wednesday January 4.