Child rapist jailed for 12 years
A gardener who groomed a young girl for sex in his van has been jailed for 12 years.
Rodney Howliston began touching the girl when she was six and groomed her by giving her gifts or small amounts of money.
He went on to abuse her repeatedly over five years and to make her have oral sex with him when she was 11. She was so confused and traumatised she did not tell anyone until she was 14.
The victim finally revealed her ordeal in a Facebook message to a relative but the full truth only emerged after she told a school friend, a youth club worker and finally a teacher.
Howliston claimed nothing had happened in his van or on other occasions when he babysat for the girl when her mother was either unwell or away from the family home in Teignbridge.
He was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court after they rejected his claims that the victim was a liar and an attention seeker.
After they returned their verdict they were told that Howliston had been convicted of a serious sexual offence against a child in 1992 and jailed for two years.
Howliston, aged 65, of Stokeinteignhead, near Teignmouth, was found guilty of oral rape of a child under 13, five counts of assault by penetration, and inciting a child to take part in sexual activity.
He was jailed for 12 years with a oneyear extended licence and put on the sex offenders’ register for life by Recorder Malcolm Gibney.
He told him: ‘It is clear the victim looked up to you. You abused that trust and took advantage of her. She was a naive and trusting child and you encouraged her not to reveal what was going on.
‘You occasionally gave her small amounts of money and subjected her to what could be called grooming for abuse. It clearly left an impact on her so it was a number of years before she was able to reveal what you had done.
‘She was a troubled and damaged young woman. You made relive her ordeal in front of a jury by contesting this case. You besmirched her character by accusing her of lying and being an attention seeker.
‘It is clear you were motivated by sexual gratification and you pose a significant risk of sexual offending against female children. This child was particularly vulnerable and your culpability is increased by your grooming behaviour.’
During a four-day trial the victim told how the abuse took place in the 2000s and early 2010s. It started when she was six and carried until she was 11.
One of the first assaults happened in his van after he offered to take her out to work with him. He put his hand into the girl’s underwear and told her not to wear any if she went in his van again.