February 2015

Four year old rape victim gives evidence in court – Child rapist jailed for nine years

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A Folkestone man who raped a four year-old-child on Christmas Eve when he was drunk has been jailed for nine years after his victim gave evidence clutching a teddy.

Sam Strange, 23, had denied three sex offences but a jury took four hours and 21 minutes to convict on a majority of 10:2.

Now Judge Heather Norton told him: “This was an extremely serious offence perpetrated on a vulnerable and defenceless young child.”

He was also placed on the Sex Offender’s Register and made subject to a Sex Offences Prevention Order for life.

The court heard how Strange, of Mead Road, Folkestone, had visited the boy’s mother on Christmas Eve.

The boy then told his mum what Strange had done to him when she questioned him two weeks later. Strange was then arrested on January 27.

The victim, who is now aged five, was called to give live evidence during the trial at Canterbury Crown Court – one of the youngest called to give evidence during a trial.

Hugging his teddy bear and wearing blue hoody, the toddler, sat in a special room next to an intermediary – a language specialist – and a member of the witness support team.

Earlier the judge and two barristers had met the child just minutes before he gave his evidence via a special CCTV link to the courtroom.

As a result, the judge and lawyers took off their robes and wigs.

Judge Norton later told the jury the child had a “particular hatred of wigs and doesn’t like us having them”.

Earlier in a video made by police and shown to the jury, the child told how he was sexually assaulted by Strange.

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall said the attacks were revealed when the child pointed to a doll and said he had been assaulted by Strange.

After the video with the allegations was played to the jury, the child was asked questions by the barrister representing Strange, Stephen Earnshaw.

The judge told the jury: “Mr Earnshaw won’t be asking many questions and among the things he won’t be asking is putting to the child that he is lying or anything like that which he might ask an adult witness.

“That is not because he has nothing to ask because there is probably lots of things he would want to ask but current thinking that when the issue is whether this happened or not it would be wrong to challenge the witness.”

The judge then asked the child his age and then Mr Earnshaw asked just five questions and received mainly one word answers.

The witness was thanked and allowed home.

Later Strange denied sexually assaulting the child.

Investigating officer Det Sgt Matthew Jones said: “This was a very serious offence on a vulnerable young person.

“Strange refused to admit what he had done, which meant putting the boy through the ordeal of giving evidence in court, which I commend him for.

“I hope now, he can put this behind him and continue to live a life like any other child would.”