Reginald Davies jailed for child sexual abuse six decades after his first crime
It was four years after the end of the second world war when Reginald Davies first began abusing children, attempting to rape a young girl of eight or nine – she can’t now remember which – when he himself was still only a teenager.
For 24 years, while living in a series of homes near Caerphilly in south Wales, he continued in the same pattern, grooming three other young girls in order to conduct a terrifying regime of abuse including raping a second young girl whenever he got the opportunity, repeatedly sexually assaulting another, and groping a fourth.
Each of them, told by their abuser that they would never be believed, or threatened that they would be taken from their parents to a “naughty girls’ school” if they dared to complain, was shamed and terrified into keeping their silence. Davies, meanwhile, moved to Australia in 1974 to start a new life with his wife, comfortable that his secret history as a paedophile would never catch up with him.
On Friday, that eight-year-old girl, now an elderly and visibly unwell woman of 71, was in court with his other three victims to see Davies finally face justice for crimes that the trial judge, Her Honour Susan Tapping, described as utterly depraved.
Sitting next to each other in the front row of the public gallery, the women clasped each others’ hands and wept as they heard their abuser, now aged 78 and himself unwell, sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted of 13 counts of rape, attempted rape, indecent assault and indecency with a child.
The sentence came 63 years after his first crime, in what the Metropolitan police believe to be the oldest historic case of its kind ever to be prosecuted in British courts. Their hope is that other victims of similar crimes will now be encouraged to come forward, however long ago their abuse took place.
The trial, as the judge acknowledged, had been a highly distressing ordeal for the four women. Each of them, Tapping said, had struggled to express the enormity of the impact on their lives of Davies’s abuse.
With the trauma of the trial over, she said: “I hope that there’s peace of mind ahead for them all. Their courage both individually and together shone through in this courtroom. I hope this light will ease their burdens, because none of this is their fault.”
Throughout the three-week trial, a jury at Kingston crown court heard how each of the victims, most unaware of the abuse of the others, had tried to suppress the memory of Davies’s crimes and get on with their lives. For decades, said Hanna Llewellyn-Waters, prosecuting, they had carried a burden of “shame, self-blame, guilt and fear”.
Each of the women had told their husbands, but a number of the men, while supportive, had asked not to be told the details. One told her mother, who didn’t want to know. One of the victims, the court heard, had attempted twice to write a fictionalised account of what had happened to her as a child, but had been unable to put the details on paper.
Finally, in 2003, the jury heard, one of the victims wrote to Davies at his home in Australia. Some years later, having found out about another of his victims, she and the other woman confronted him at his home near Perth. In 2008, they reported him to Australian police, and he was extradited to the UK last year.
Davies’s defence had sought to suggest that the lengthy delay in the women coming forward – and the lack of almost any evidence beyond their accounts – made their testimony unreliable. “I ask you: 60 years of silence?” barrister Mark Kimsey had asked the jury. “Sixty years without a single word in that whole time?” Sentencing, however, Tapping described the four as “women of total integrity: they were compelling witnesses telling the distressing truth”.
Addressing Davies, she said: “You are the one who must now face your day of reckoning. Maybe you thought you were safe from justice halfway around the world, but you were not.”
There was “one final victim” of his offending, the judge said – Davies’s wife, Pamela, who had accompanied him throughout his trial. Rather than celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next year, she must return to Australia next month to lead what Tapping called “a lonely existence”.
Kimsey had earlier described any jail term for the elderly man as “effectively akin to a life sentence”.
The Met, welcoming the verdict, expressed the hope that it would embolden other victims of historic abuse to speak out.
“I hope that [Davies's] extradition from the other side of the world and conviction give other victims the confidence to come forward and report their experiences to the police,” said DI Tessa Philpott of the Metropolitan police’s child abuse investigation command.
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