March 2015

Combe Martin man jailed for raping schoolgirl babysitter

A JOINER from Combe Martin has been jailed for 11 years after being found guilty of raping a young babysitter who looked after his children in the 1970s.

Graham Staddon started abusing the vulnerable schoolgirl when she was just 13 and went on to rape her when four years later after she stayed overnight in a spare room at his home.

His assaults began when he was walking her home and took her down dark alleys in Combe Martin and became more serious when he attacked her in his car while giving her lifts to or from babysitting.

The rape happened when Staddon’s two young children were playing in a corridor outside the bedroom where she was attacked.

The girl suffered physical abuse at home from her strict and violent father and was too frightened to tell anyone what Staddon was doing to her.

She eventually revealed the truth to the police 40 years later after undergoing counselling and therapy and being emboldened by high profile abuse cases.

Police praised her courage after Staddon was found guilty and jailed at Exeter Crown Court.

Staddon, aged 63, of King Street, Combe Martin, denied rape and six indecent assaults but was found guilty and jailed for 11 years by Judge Graham Cottle.

He told him: “Your victim had an unhappy home life in which she was subjected to emotional and physical abuse. She was a lonely child who sought to escape by babysitting for you when she was 13.

“You saw her as a vulnerable child and began to abuse her sexually when the opportunity arose. Now, after 40 years, you have eventually been brought to justice because she has summoned the courage to come forward.

“I bear in mind there was only one incident of rape but set against that you had been indecently assaulting her regularly for four years.”

Sean Brunton, for the prosecution, said the offence was particularly serious because of Staddon’s breach of trust as the girl’s employer and the 40 years of psychological anguish she has suffered since.

Staddon had denied any form of sexual contact other than a single and innocuous goodnight kiss on one occasion when he took the girl home.

Greg Richardson, for the defence, said Staddon had lived a hard working and blameless life in the 40 years since the offences occurred.

After the case Detective Constable Sam Napier, of the Barnstaple child abuse investigation team, said:”Staddon targeted a vulnerable young girl and abused her. I hope this verdict and sentence will allow the victim to rebuild her life.

“I would like to praise the courage of the victim and the other witnesses in coming forward in this case.”