September 2013

Exeter historic abuse trial acts as warning that offenders will be brought to justice


In what the judge described as one of the most serious cases of sexual abuse he had ever come across, Christopher Perry of Wiley’s Avenue in Exeter was jailed for 14 and a half years.

The court heard he had feigned memory loss to try to escape justice. He had gone to a psychologist and asked for treatment for the sudden onset of amnesia when he learned his three victims were being interviewed by police.

But his horrific catalogue of abuse was exposed when one of his victims was stopped for drink driving and told police she used alcohol to blot out the memories of her stolen childhood.

A team of investigators, led by DC Moira Hamilton of Exeter CID, then traced the other two victims who had kept their ordeals secret for almost 40 years but were finally able to reveal the truth.

Perry, aged 69, admitted a total of 12 charges of indecent assault, gross indecency, and other sexual offences.

They relate to assaults on three girls aged between four and 16 between 1973 and 2000 and included offences in all four decades.

Following the sentencing DS Adrian Hawkins, said the sentence had given some much needed closure to Perry’s victims.

“He ruined their childhood years by subjecting them to sexual abuse for over a decade,” he said. “This led them to lead a life in fear.

“An extensive police enquiry involved speaking to many people whose lives were effected in one way or another by Perry.

“By pleading guilty he has now at least spared his victims the further agony of a court trial. I would like to express my personal thanks to the witnesses in the case who throughout the investigation were extremely brave and showed courage in coming forward.

“The officer in the case, DC Moira Hamilton, worked tirelessly with her colleagues to seek out the evidence required to put this case before the court.

“This case shows that historic abuse will be treated seriously and acted upon by the Police. We are committed to safeguarding the public by ensuring that perpetrators who abuse children are brought to justice.”

During the sentencing at Exeter Crown Court Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, told Perry: ”This is one of the most serious cases of sexual abuse I have ever come across.

“I don’t know whether or not your remorse is genuine. If it is, it can only be said it has come very, very late in your life and through all that time your victims have had to live with the knowledge of what you have done to them.

“You ruined the childhood and teenaged years of the victims and this abuse only came to light when one of them was stopped for drink driving and told the police she drank to excess because of the abuse she had suffered.”

The judge ordered Perry to sign on the sex offenders’ register for life and imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans contact with children on his release.

Andrew MacFarlane, prosecuting, said:”This defendant has caused untold distress and anguish through his abuse of the three complainants over a period spanning 27 years.”

He said Perry ensured the silence of his victims through threats and persuaded them to keep ‘their secret’ for years. His assaults included violent rapes and on one occasion he tied one girl.

Mr MacFarlane said when the offences started to come to light he made an appointment to see a psychologist.

He said: “He visited him in November last year and complained of a loss of memory. The psychologist’s clinical view was that he had nothing wrong with his memory and was trying to use it as a defence against these allegations.”

Nicolas Gerasimidis, defending, said Perry’s guilty pleas spared the victims from giving evidence at a trial and that he now feels genuine remorse.

He said: “He hopes this will be a point where closure can take place for the victims. He understands the hurt he has caused.”