May 2006

Pair jailed for abusing child: Man and woman carried out sex attacks on girl 30 years ago

A BLACK Country man and woman who carried out a sickening campaign of sexual abuse against a schoolgirl more than 30 years ago have been jailed for a total of 14 years.

Judge John Wait sentenced 77-year-old Hazel Withers to four years while 58-year-old Bernard Hill was sent to prison for ten years.

“You have been convicted on compelling and distressing evidence of the cruel abuse of a child,” he told them.

The sex attacks began in 1971 when their victim was just eight, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

They carried on until 1976 and it was “systematic” abuse, said Simon Davis, prosecuting.

Withers, of Lavender Road, Norton, and Hill, of Heath Lane, Oldswinford, both Stourbridge, denied a string of serious sex charges.

Both pleaded not guilty to three charges of rape, two of attempted rape and three of indecency with a child.

Hill further denied two other charges of rape and two of indecent assault while Withers pleaded not guilty to two charges of cruelty to a child.

But the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts at the end of a five day trial.

Withers told the jury she knew Hill had committed offences against the girl but she opted to make no complaint – a decision she now bitterly regretted.

Hill, who told police “I don’t know what you are talking about” when arrested, maintained he was innocent on all the charges.

The pair were further ordered by the Judge to register as sex offenders for life.

He told Hill: “Your crimes have gone unpunished for 30 years. Your victim will never be able to forget what you have done. I have no doubts at all it has affected the whole of her life.”

The Judge told Withers he accepted that to a degree she had been in “fear” of Hill.