Police say they are disappointed a court was unable to impose a sentence that “reflected the severity of the matter” after an 88-year-old Pevensey man, who denied historic sexual offences against two girls under the age of 13, had the offences proved against him.
Sussex Police said at Lewes Crown Court last week a jury found Norman Askew had raped and indecently assaulted girls under the age of 13 at the end of a trial of facts after he was deemed unfit to stand trial in person because of ill health.
At the conclusion of the hearing, His Honour Judge Charles Kemp ruled that Askew, of High Street, should receive an absolute discharge.
Following the trial, Detective Constable Amy Green said, “This has been a particularly difficult and sensitive case for a number of reasons.
“I would like to extend enormous thanks and gratitude to the prosecution witnesses who showed great patience and understanding over the course of the five years that it took to bring this case to trial.
“While to some extent I’m disappointed the court was unable to impose a sentence that reflected the severity of the matter, I do feel it was an important exercise for the evidence to be heard and for a jury to reach verdicts for these extremely serious acts.
“I hope the verdicts will provide Askew’s victims with some solace, as it demonstrates their compelling and truthful accounts have been believed beyond any doubt.
“This case has been somewhat unusual because of the court’s ruling that the defendant was unfit to participate in the trial. In my eyes, however, it was still critical for the case to be heard, even though it meant that any meaningful sentence could not be imposed.”
Under the law, a trial of facts may take place once a court has determined the defendant is subject to a disability that prevents their trial progressing. The truth of the allegations against the defendant, as opposed to their guilt or innocence of a crime, is to be determined.
If the jury finds the offences proved, the court’s options are to order an absolute discharge, a supervision order, or a hospital order (with or without a restriction order).
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