April 2018

Devon rapist who pretended to be ghost jailed for 26 years

A ‘monstrous’ sexual predator exploited a child’s fear of ghosts and haunted houses by sending threatening notes telling her to have sex with him.

Paedophile Liam Clarke, 35,  of Crediton, Devon carried out a ‘campaign of rape’ and abuse of three girls, Exeter Crown Court was told.

His sickening crimes included ‘deliberately exploiting her deep fears of ghosts and spirits’ to satisfy his perverted cravings.

He said her house was haunted and that ghosts would come after her unless she did as they said. He sent her letters pretending they were from malevolent spirits.

He also bullied and threatened two other girls for his own sexual satisfaction and tried to buy their silence with money.

Clarke was jailed for 26 years by a judge who said he had no doubt that he posed a serious threat to young girls and members of the public.

The defendant was found guilty by a jury of 16 serious sexual offences, including rape of children. The offences took place a number of years ago, in Torbay, Mid Devon and other parts of the country.

Judge David Evans said: “Your offences taken together across the years are monstrous. You have, it is quite clear on reading the personal statements of those against whom you offended, devastated three lives directly and you have affected many indirectly.

“You denied those offences from first to last and you effectively pointed the finger at the three women who had the strength to come forward.

“On the jury’s verdict they saw through that attempt to avoid responsibility.”

The jury was told that Clarke would befriend his victims, aged as young as seven at the time, give them money and play ‘tickling’ games with them before assaulting them.

He threatened to beat one of the girls up if she told anyone and bribed the others with money.

His offending against one victim relied on her fear of ghosts and the supernatural, the court was told.

Judge Evans said she had a ‘significant fear of the supernatural’.

Clarke pretended her house was haunted and the ‘haunting spirits followed her’. He sent her notes from ‘ghosts’ telling her if she did not have sex with him the spirits would come after her.

“You used her fear against her to secure her quite unwilling compliance,” said the judge.

The judge said the effect on the young victim had been ‘very significant’.

Clarke must serve at least 17 of the 26 year sentence in jail at which point he will be assessed for release by the parole board.