13 years in prison for paedophile will be 'life sentence'

Credit: ITV News

A 101-year-old paedophile thought to be the oldest man convicted by a British court is beginning a 13-year prison sentence after carrying out a string of historical sex offences against children.

Retired haulier Ralph Clarke had already been warned to expect a significant custodial sentence for 17 offences of indecent assault, 11 of indecency with a child and two attempted serious sexual assaults.

Clarke pleaded guilty to nine offences relating to a male victim part-waythrough a two-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Sentencing on Monday, the judge told him:

Judge Richard Bond QC told Clarke he had considered his "age and infirmity" but the abuse was "so severe" only a lengthy jail term could be imposed.

He told the centenarian - who suffers with respiratory issues, diabetes andsignificant limitations of his hearing, sight and mobility - the impact of jailwould be "enormous".

At a previous hearing, Mr Bond had said "the reality is he is so old it willbe amazing if he is released back into the community", with his own barrister accepting it would effectively be "a life sentence" for Clarke.

He said the children had been "powerless" to stop former RAF servicemanClarke, who would threaten and beat those who defied his word.

Mr Bond told him:

As frail Clarke was led out with the help of an intermediary, two dock officers, and his walking stick, he was heard asking how long he had been jailed for before being taken down.

The offences all took place in the cab of his lorry and a makeshift work-shed, as well as other places, with Clarke taking care to ensure he was never seen.

Clarke seemed unconcerned by the gravity of the charges against him throughout his trial, at one point saying while jurors were outside: