April 2018

Pervert OAP escapes jail because he has dementia

A pensioner who indecently assaulted two young girls was found to be unfit to stand trial because he is suffering from dementia.

And even though a jury found Eric North did abuse the two girls, a judge was restricted in what he could do with him because of his medical condition.

So North, aged 85 of Wood End, near Atherstone, ended up being given an absolute discharge and ordered to register as a sex offender for five years.

The pensioner had originally faced seven charges of indecently assaulting a young girl in the late 1970s and early 1980s – and four more recent charges in relation to another girl.

But before he was due to stand trial at Warwickshire Justice Centre in Nuneaton, psychiatrists agreed that because he was suffering from vascular dementia he was mentally unfit to stand trial.

So instead of being asked to return verdicts, the jury was asked to decide only whether North ‘did the acts alleged.’

And following a ‘trial of fact,’ they agreed he had carried out all seven allegations relating to the first girl, and one incident involving the second girl.

Prosecutor Gary Venturi had said that matters in relation to the first girl originally came to light as long ago as 1994 when, then in her late teens, she made a statement to the police.

North was arrested, but he denied the allegations and she was reluctant to take matters further at that time.

Some years later she married and confided in her husband, and ultimately she made a formal complaint to the police in 2016.

She explained that North would visit her parents’ home when she was young, and began by touching her over her clothing.

 

He progressed to touching her ‘down below’ and on her breasts under her clothing, and of his visits, she commented: “If he could try something, he probably would.”

In 2016 a family friend of a teenage girl noticed that she appeared to be upset about something, and when she spoke to her the girl told her of an incident involving North.

She went on to reveal that when she was 12 he had touched her indecently over her clothing.

The girl then went to the police, and it was her complaint which led to a re-investigation of the earlier matters.

Because North had been found unfit to stand trial, it left the judge with only three possible ways of dealing with him under the Mental Health Act.

Of those, the court heard, a hospital order could not be imposed because he does not have a treatable mental illness, and Judge Anthony Potter had adjourned for enquiries to be made into whether he could be made subject to a supervision order.

But at the resumed hearing, Andrew Tucker, defending, said: “Your Honour asked if there was any prospect of the Social Services Department supervising Mr North under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act.

 

“The reply to that from the county council is a resounding ‘no,’ and the Probation Service takes a very similar attitude.

“The other alternatives would be a hospital order, which no-one would regard as appropriate, or an absolute discharge. I can only ask for an absolute discharge in the circumstances.”

Judge Potter told North: “Given the nature of your illness, it may be you struggle to understand these remarks, so I’ll keep them short.

“It has been found that you committed indecent acts towards two children, one in the late 1970s and early 80s, and one more recently on one occasion.

“I have heard from both of them of the effect it has had on them, and from one the difficulties your acts have caused her for many, many years.

 

“The verdicts have shown you did assault her in the way she first complained of many years ago, and which you denied.

“I have read both psychiatric reports, and the only realistic option for me is to impose an absolute discharge.