Couple jailed for 10 years

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A married couple from Eastbourne have been jailed in connection with a series of historic sexual offences against children.

Ian St Claire, 57, and Gillian St Claire, 56, both of Hengist Close, were sentenced yesterday (Thursday) to eight years and two-and-a-half years imprisonment respectively at Lewes Crown Court.

At a previous hearing at Hove Crown Court, Ian St Claire was found guilty of 16 offences of indecent assault, gross indecency, and attempted rape of a boy in Bexhill and Eastbourne between 1979 and 1993. He was also found guilty of child cruelty against that boy and another boy.

Gillian St Claire was found guilty of two offences of ill-treating and neglecting the same boy between 1982 and 1992, and another such offence against another boy in Bexhill between 1984 and 1995.

Sentencing Ian St Claire, Judge Anthony Scott Gall said, “There was an unpleasant regularity about your violent and depraved treatment of these two boys. It became an every day way of life for those poor children.

“It was quite appalling misconduct. The harm you have caused is long-term harm.”

The court heard Ian St Claire, who suffers with severe arthritis and was confined to a wheelchair, has sexually assaulted one of the boy and also used belts, slippers and other items to chastise him and another boy.

Jailing Gillian St Claire, the judge said she had showed arrogance and contempt during the trial of her and her husband towards the victims and the witnesses.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” he said. “Aside from that, you turned your back on the abuse that was being used on the boys by your husband. You turned the other way knowingly.”

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Constable Martyn Milligan, of Sussex Police, said, “This was a complex investigation in which we uncovered systematic abuse over many years affecting two vulnerable boys even into their adulthood.

“The offending was summed up in specimen charges which covered a whole period of abuse. This was reported to us in 2011, long after the offending had ceased, but we were still able to help achieve justice for the victims, and this sends a clear message that anyone who feels they have been victim of such offending can contact us in confidence at anytime, and their concerns will be taken seriously.”

Judge Scott Gall said the couple had been convicted by a jury on the “most compelling and overwhelming evidence.”.