May 2019

Policeman who strangled his wife jailed for sexually abusing girls

A former military policeman has been jailed for abusing two young girls when he was in Devon on leave during the 1960s and 1970s.

Paul Howell raped one young victim when she was just eight and sexually assaulted the other when she was 11 and caused lifelong psychological harm to both.

The court was told that Howell had also been jailed for 30 months at Bristol Crown Court in 1985 for the manslaughter of his wife, who he strangled to death in 1984.

He started his attacks when he was at a boarding school and on holiday and carried them on after he joined the military police, Exeter Crown Court were told.

Howell groomed both girls by giving them money or presents and scared them into keeping his abuse secret.

They have lived most of their lives in fear because Howell went on to strangle his wife to death while living in Bristol in 1985 and was jailed for manslaughter.

The two victims, now in their 50s or 60s, both wrote impact statements detailing how Howell’s abuse had blighted their lives.

One said:”I am an adult now, but it was a small, quite innocent child, who was abused and raped. She never had a voice as a child, so I am standing up for her now. She deserved better.

“I am compelled to do this for her and for myself. I have lived with 50 years of fear and intimidation.”

The other woman wrote:”He instructed me to keep it secret and that led to feelings of shame and lack of self worth. I have been stranded with this and have sought counselling.

“I cannot look at the news in case there is a story about children. When people compliment me, I feel uncomfortable because it reminds me of his grooming.”

Howell, aged 69, of Ringers Close, Apperley, near Tewkesbury, admitted rape and indecent assault and was jailed for 12 years with a one year extended licence by Recorder Mr Simon Levene at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him:”You must have known how wrong your actions were, however young you were at the time. My main consideration is the severe psychological harm inflicted on the victims.”

Mr Richard Crabb, prosecuting, said Howell grew up in Exeter and the abuse happened when he was back in the city.

He abused the first girl when she was 11 and 12 in the late 1960s by touching her breasts and body and making her touch him.

He went on to abuse the second girl on a number of occasions between the ages of eight and 13, including raping her at least three times.

Both girls told friends about their childhood ordeals over the years and one of them finally went to police in 2017 after discussing it with a counsellor. The police were then able to trace the other victim, who also agreed to give evidence.

Howell was jailed for 30 months at Bristol Crown Court in 1985 for the manslaughter of his wife, who he strangled to death in 1984.

He denied all the allegations and tried to commit suicide on the day before his trial was due to start last year. He recovered and changed his plea a few days before a new trial was scheduled this month.