March 2009

Child rapist’s jail term cut

A FORMER fireman who abused two young girls in the 1980s and stashed guns and ammunition in his loft has had his jail term cut on appeal.

David John Holland, 56, sexually assaulted the girls and raped one of them when he was the owner of a gun shop in South Shields.

Three top judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court heard his appeal against sentence yesterday, and ruled that the jail term he received in May 2008 was too long, and slashed it from 15 to 13 years.

Lord Justice Dyson, sitting with Mrs Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Sweeney, told the court that Holland’s sex crimes were only uncovered when the victims came forward after years of silence.

Holland’s home was searched and a stash of firearms and ammunition was found in his attic, dating back to the time when he owned the shop. However, his licence to own them had expired.

Holland, of The Wynds, Esh Winning, County Durham, admitted four counts and was convicted of two counts of gross indecency with a child.

He was also convicted of rape and admitted five counts of indecent assault.

In relation to the weapons offences, he admitted possessing firearms and ammunition without a certificate, and was jailed for a total of 15 years at Newcastle Crown Court in May last year.

His legal team urged the appeal court to cut the sentence, arguing that it was “manifestly excessive”.

“We have regard to the fact that Holland is now 56,” said Lord Justice Dyson. “He is a man of previous good character and he does suffer from significant ill-health.

“He did plead guilty to the majority of these offences. In our view this was a shocking and appalling piece of criminal activity which lasted over a very substantial period of time, but we consider that 15 years in all was too long.

“The appropriate sentence should have been 13 years’ imprisonment.”