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101-year-old paedophile 'facing double-figure jail term'

A 101-year-old paedophile facing a double-figure jail term has been branded "evil" by one of his victims after being remanded in custody - becoming Britain's oldest prisoner.

A woman abused as a child by Ralph Clarke said he deserved to "rot in hell" and die behind bars after being convicted of 30 sexual offences committed in the 1970s and the early 1980s.

Clarke, who abused two girls and a boy, showed no emotion as a judge at Birmingham Crown Court said he would be amazed if the pensioner lived long enough to be released back into the community.

The centenarian, from Erdington, Birmingham, was allowed to keep his white walking stick as he was ushered from the dock and taken down to the cells.

Speaking after a jury returned 21 guilty verdicts against Clarke, the older of his two female victims said: "He has damaged so many lives in such a massive way and he has no remorse.

"He's evil and he deserves to be in prison - he deserves to die in prison, he deserves to rot in hell for what he put me through, let alone the others. I think we can all say that."

Also speaking anonymously, the younger female victim said: "You are never ever going to feel like you have got justice when you have been abused, I don't think.

"It makes me angry that he knew right from the beginning we were telling the truth. The guy can't even say sorry and it makes me so angry that he has got no remorse, no regret."

Clarke, a former lorry driver, seemed unconcerned by the gravity of the charges against him throughout his two-week trial, at one point saying while jurors were outside: "Well, it is Christmas - he (the judge) might send us all home."

The sex offender, who will be sentenced on Monday, briefly shook his head as his counsel and prosecutor Miranda Moore QC discussed legal guidelines governing sentencing for sexual offences.

Pointing out that the offences had caused severe psychological harm to the victims, Judge Richard Bond told the court: "The public would be horrified if I didn't send him to prison.

"I have to say the sentence I am looking at at the moment is in double figures.

"I will have to discount (the sentence) for the offender's extreme age, although there is of course the argument that he has been able to live in the community for decades now, when in fact he should have served a custodial sentence for this offending all those years ago.

"The reality is he is so old it will be amazing if he is released back into the community."

Explaining his decision to remand the pensioner in custody for the weekend, the judge went on: "Mr Clarke has been convicted of sexually abusing three separate victims.

"There is always the possibility he might not turn up. What really preys upon my mind is the real possibility he might do something to stop the sentencing taking place."

During his trial, Clarke told the jury of six men and six women he was "pretty well immune" to feelings.

He told the court from the witness box: "I don't know. I am rather hard.

"I take life as it comes. I had always got a pile of kids around the garage because I used to repair all the bikes for them. They'd come from all over."

Defence counsel Darron Whitehead said Clarke would turn 102 next March and suffered from respiratory issues, diabetes and significant limitations of his hearing, sight and mobility.

Mr Whitehead said of the jail term Clarke faces: "In real terms it is a life sentence and the reality is he will not be released."

In a statement issued after the case, Detective Constable Emma Fennon, of West Midlands Police, said: "There may be people who question the merits of taking a 101-year-old man to court - but age alone is no defence against prosecution.

"Those he assaulted had to live with the suffering he inflicted on them for decades. They have had a life sentence in that respect and I hope they can take some comfort from the fact Clarke has finally been made to pay."

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