Clipstone abuse couple: Sentencing over child rapes

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Media captionA woman abused by a Nottinghamshire couple speaks about how the attacks ruined her life

A Nottinghamshire couple have been sentenced for the rape and indecent assault of three young girls.

Robert and Rita Oldham, aged 53 and 51, from Clipstone, Mansfield, sexually abused the girls between 1993 and 2006. The judge said it was "a catalogue of depravity".

He was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to 16 offences, including rape and indecent assault.

His wife was sentenced to six years for rape and indecent assault.

She pleaded guilty to three charges, one of rape, one of indecent assault, and a third of wilfully neglecting and exposing a child to assault and ill-treatment by her husband.

The offences took place at addresses in Nottinghamshire over 13 years. The pair denied a number of other charges.

Image caption Robert and Rita Oldham were described by police as 'cold, selfish and utterly lacking in remorse'.

Passing sentence Judge John Milmo told them: "I have rarely come across such a catalogue of depravity."

Police said one victim was aged three when she was first assaulted.

A statement read in court said: "My only way of surviving has been to lock all the memories away and try to pretend it had all happened to someone else.

"But the dreadful memories eat away at you all the time, day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year".

One victim told the BBC the abuse had affected most of her life.

"I had a mental breakdown and tried to commit suicide. I tried to take an overdose when I was 12 years old, I think", she said.

"I was at school and tried to take a load of pills. The school just put it down to bullying - nobody listened to what I had to say.

"At one point a social worker said I was just saying it because I was having a tantrum which just put it in my head that if they didn't believe me, then no-one would."

'Appalling crimes'

She said they wished people had listened: "They could have saved three of us from a lot of heartache and suffering that we had to go through.

"I just want to urge people if they're in the same situations not to give up, and to speak out and to be heard. It might take a while but you will get there."

The Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children's Board said the case had now been referred to the Serious Case Review Panel.

Following the sentencing Det Con Louise Gowan, who has spent nine years investigating child and sexual abuse and led the police investigation, described the Oldhams as "cold, selfish and utterly lacking in remorse for their crimes".

She said: "Three young lives have been terribly damaged as a result of the depraved actions of this man and his wife.

"Whilst conducting a detailed and, necessarily sensitive investigation, we have provided as much help, support and compassion to the three victims and that will continue as they rebuild their lives and try to move on.

"The prison sentences handed out will help them on that journey.

"All three expressed the wish that their abusers should be locked up for a very long time as punishment for the appalling crimes they carried out."

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