Briton Reginald Davies, 78, convicted of rapes he carried out 63 years ago
An elderly man has been convicted of the rape and sexual abuse of four young girls in south Wales going back as long as 63 years ago, in one of the oldest historic cases of sex offences ever prosecuted.
Reginald Davies, 78, was extradited from Australia last year to face the charges after three of the women reported him to police in 2008. The oldest of his victims, whom he attempted to rape when she was 10, is now 71.
Two of Davies' victims were at Kingston crown court to hear a jury find him guilty on 13 counts, including rape, attempted rape, indecent assault and indecency against a child.
The crimes took place over a 24-year period from 1949, when Davies was 15, until 1973, shortly before he emigrated. At the time he was living at a series of addresses near Caerphilly.
Davies was remanded in custody and will be sentenced today. Both he and his 71-year-old wife, Pamela, who was in court to support him throughout the three-week trial, were "inconsolable" at the verdict, said his barrister, Mark Kimsey.
Judge Susan Tapper said she would hear submissions from the defence relating to Davies' age and ill health, but that he would otherwise face "a very substantial sentence". The former miner and soldier walks with the help of a cane, and wore a hearing aid while giving evidence.
The jury heard during the trial that the women had carried a burden of "shame, self-blame, guilt and fear" for decades before they felt able to report the crimes.
One of the victims, whom Davies was convicted of raping when she was a young teenager, had been in effect "sexually groomed during her formative years as a child", the prosecutor, Hanna Llewellyn-Waters, told the jury, and had initially believed the abuse was a game that all children experienced. As she grew older, said the lawyer, "she locked it away, unable to face it or deal with it".
Davies had "nurtured a fear of disclosing the abuse … when they were children", the prosecution had told the jury. "He made them feel that they would not be believed, that they were to blame and, on occasion, threatened that they would be removed from their parents if they were to report the abuse."
Davies had attempted to persuade the jury that the women had fabricated their accounts.
In 2008, three of the women reported Davies to police in Australia. In September last year, officers met him at Perth airport and he was escorted on a flight to London Heathrow and arrested by British police when he landed.
Helen Ryan, a senior Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, paid tribute to the victims and praised "their strength in coming forward after so many years" to report "a prolonged campaign of sexual abuse and rape".