June 2008

Pervert jailed for four years

A PAEDOPHILE who preyed on two young girls has been jailed for four years.

Following a five day trial in April, Harold Ratcliffe, aged 67, of Westworth Close, Brownlow Fold was found guilty of indecency with a child, sexually assaulting a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and indecent assault.

He had first targeted a girl when she was eight or nine-years-old in the mid 1970s, but the offences only came to light 30 years later when, in 2006 another girl, then aged seven, complained that Ratcliffe has “been dirty” with her.

Today, at Bolton Crown Court, Judge Timothy Clayson heard that Ratcliffe, who is in poor health and cares for a disabled partner, was a man of previous good character.

But Judge Clayson told Ratcliffe that the effect of his abuse on the older of the two girls had been “very considerable” and it is still too soon to know what impact it would have on the younger girl.

“You have shown no remorse in respect of any of these offences,” said the judge.

He sentenced Ratcliffe to four years in prison, half of which he will spend on licence. He will also be placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

As he was led away from the dock to start his sentence Ratcliffe gave a thumbs up to his supporters in the public gallery.

Speaking after the case his eldest victim, who was in court to see him sentenced, said she was “satisfied” with the outcome.

“I felt relief when he was found guilty. I am glad he has been made to be answerable for what he has done,” she said.

She had come forward to police about the abuse she had kept silent about for 30 years after learning Ratcliffe had abused another child.

“I thought ‘This is it.’ We have got to stop this,” she said.

“I felt angry with myself that I had not spoken out before.”

She says she is now feels, at last, that she can put the abuse she suffered behind her and get on with her life.