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Accused (101) monster Ralph Clarke ruined my life, woman tells trial

By Matthew Cooper

The first witness in the trial in Birmingham of a 101-year-old man accused of historical child sex offences has described him as a "monster" who left her feeling ashamed and suicidal.

On the first day of evidence against former lorry driver Ralph Clarke yesterday, the alleged victim rejected claims she had invented allegations of abuse against the pensioner.

Clarke, who was born in March 1915, is alleged to have committed a string of offences against three children, including one as young as seven, between 1974 and 1983.

The retired haulier was allowed to sit in the well of the court rather than in the dock as one of his alleged victims told jurors she went to police because she was unable to cope with the "guilt" of not making a complaint.

During her evidence the witness, now aged in her 50s, said she had decided to complain to police in August last year.

She came forward after suffering nightmares and flashbacks.

The woman, who became upset during several sections of her evidence, told Birmingham Crown Court she had hidden abuse she suffered as a young child from school friends.

Responding to questions from Clarke's barrister Darron Whitehead, the alleged victim said: "I hid it from everybody because you feel dirty and ashamed - I felt as if I had done something wrong."

Dabbing away tears with a tissue, the woman went on: "I don't know how I hid it (from other people) but you do, even now as an adult. "I have sat in rooms or on a bus and people talk about paedophiles and make judgments - a lot of people think if you are abused you go on to abuse, and inside I am crying, saying that's not true.

"You don't want people to know because people can change their opinions of you and you are frightened of people's reactions. That's why I had to try and keep it to myself."

Under further questioning by Mr Whitehead, who said Clarke denied abusing her, the woman added: "I am not going to my grave knowing that I let him get away with it, I am not taking that guilt to my grave.

"He's a monster. I couldn't cope with it anymore."

Clarke, of Holly Lane, Erdington, Birmingham, denies 17 charges of indecent assault, 12 counts of indecency with a child and two attempted serious sexual offences.

The case continues.

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