January 2017

Inquest opened into death of jailed sex offender, Richard West

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AN inquest has been opened into the death of a former RAF officer who has died just six months after being jailed for sex offences against children

Richard West, previously of Armstrong Rise, Charlton, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison in June after being found guilty of six counts of historic indecent assault.

The inquest into the 74-year-old’s death, which happened in the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, last month was opened on December 19 and has been adjourned until the hearing in Winchester Coroner’ s Court on June 12, at 10am.

Following a trial in November 2015 a majority guilty verdict was passed in relation to the charges concerning one victim but the jury failed to return a verdict on the five charges relating to the second victim.

It then took seven months for him to be sentenced due to his failing health.

West had to remain in his wheelchair as he appeared before Judge Andrew Barnett in Salisbury Crown Cour t to face sentence.

Mr Cotter, defending West, told the court how the former serviceman’s health problems should be taken into consideration when deciding on the length of his sentence, arguing that West was housebound, could walk no further than 10 feet, and was “effectively at the tail end of his life”.

Sentencing him to more than five years in prison, Judge Barnett remarked upon the “devastating effect” that West’s actions had had on his victims and told him that the “awful damage” he had done could not be ignored.

June 2016

Pervert awaits sentencing

A VICTIM of historic sexual offences has spoken out about the devastating impact the indecent assaults have had on her life as her abuser awaits sentencing for his crimes.

Richard West, whose address is listed as Armstrong Rise, Charlton, was convicted of six counts of historic indecent assault against a young girl during a two-year period in the late 1970s after a jury found him guilty following a trial in November.

It took the panel of jurors 39 hours to return a majority guilty verdict after the 73-year-old denied the charges.

Six months later and the former RAF officer awaits sentencing.

“I didn’t have a childhood; he has ruined my life,” his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said following the trial. “I feel like my whole life has been taken up by this. It has always been there, I have been living like a robot just doing what I had to do to get by.”

The woman, who is now in her 50s, has attempted to take her own life on numerous occasions and has undergone years of extensive therapy to come to terms with what happened to her as a child.

“I have spent years feeling ashamed and guilty about what happened to me, like it was all my fault because that is how I was made to feel,” she continued. “It has affected my relationship with my husband, we have separate bedrooms. When my children were younger I just felt like I was existing.

“That is the one thing that really hurts, that I cannot get that time back with them and enjoy them. When I gave birth to my eldest I said to my husband ‘you touch her and I’ll go to prison for what I do to you’ – another thing ruined by the past. It should have been a happy occasion, that was our first child together.”

“I truly believe if I had not met my husband I would not be here now. I feel like he saved my life and now he has been fighting for his.”

West originally faced 11 allegations of historic sexual offences but the jury did not return a verdict on the further five charges against another witness.

Continuing to describe how the crimes have affected her everyday life she said: “People tell me I’m strong but I don’t feel strong, I feel like I’m pretending to be strong. At work, if something goes wrong and I know it’s not me that has done it, I feel like it is my fault, that I’m going to get the blame.

“I get the bus to work and I have to sit at the back because I can’t bear anybody to be behind me after what he did to me.”

Talking about when the verdict was read out, she said: “It was a bit muddled at first but then she said guilty on all counts. I just screamed and fell on the floor but even him being found guilty does not make it go away.”

At the time of going press, West continues to await sentencing.