Sex abuse: Reginald Davies jailed for 1949-1973 offences

Reginald Davies
Image caption Reginald Davies committed 13 offences, including rape, over 24 years

A former serviceman and miner who sexually assaulted four girls in south Wales between 1949 and 1973 has been jailed for 11 years.

Reginald Davies, 78, was convicted at Kingston Crown Court in London of 13 offences, including rape of a girl under the age of 12.

His victims, who were aged between nine and 16, were assaulted in the Caerphilly county borough area.

They were at the court and sobbed as the sentence was read out.

The Metropolitan Police said the case involved the oldest charges to be heard in a UK court.

Davies, who served with the Royal Engineers and the Royal Dragoons, committed the offences when he was aged between 15 and 39.

He was arrested in July last year at his home in Australia before being extradited a couple of months later.

He claimed in court the four women were lying and "in collusion".

Judge Susan Tapping described Davies's claim that his victims were lying as "nothing more than the wriggling of a cowardly man unable to accept that the past had caught up with him".

She said the victims had found the experience of giving evidence "embarrassing and intrusive", and praised their integrity.

She told Davies: "Their courage both individually and together shone through in this courtroom.

"I hope this light will ease their burdens because none of this was their fault.

"You are the one who must now face your day of reckoning. Maybe you thought you were safe from justice half way around the world, but you were not."

Davies had moved to Australia in 1974.

'Confused and damaged'

Judge Tapping said his crimes were "utterly depraved".

"You left behind confused and damaged adults and children who grew up with the shadow of what you had done to them haunting them all their lives," she said.

During the trial, Hanna Llewellyn-Waters, prosecuting, said Davies "preyed on the innocence" of the four girls, leaving them to carry the burden for the rest of their lives.

"You relied on their fear that they would not be believed and told them that they would be taken away from everything they loved," she added.

Davies was confronted by two of his victims in 2008 while they were on holiday in Australia.

A third victim later came forward to police, who found the fourth woman following an investigation.

Davies was arrested last July at his home in Wanneroo on Australia's west coast and extradited in September last year.

He was found guilty of two charges of child rape, two of attempted rape, eight of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child.

He was cleared of one charge of child rape and one charge of attempted rape.

Ahead of sentencing, Mark Kimsey, defending, said the case had a devastating effect on Davies's wife of almost 50 years.

In her sentencing remarks, Judge Tapping said: "In a very different way she is your final victim.

"She must return to Australia and lead a lonely existence."

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