1. ITV Report

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

Photo: 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-way through a two-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Sentencing on Monday, the judge told him:

You present as a fragile old man; however, what was plain to see was that, despite your guilty pleas, you have no remorse whatsoever.

– Judge Richard Bond QC

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 and significant limitations of his hearing, sight and mobility - the impact of jail would be "enormous".

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

Ralph Clarke Credit: PA

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

Mr Bond told him:

One of your victims remembers you as a nasty man, free with your fists and he would get belted by you.

Clarke would also try to "bribe" the other children after abusing them, offering them sweets money of "10 or 20p.

– Judge Richard Bond QC

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:

Well, it is Christmas - he (the judge) might send us all home.

– Ralph Clarke

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