June 2016

Former church elder spared jail after raping young girls in Nottingham

getfile

A ‘wicked’ former church elder has been spared jail after he was found to have raped two girls and indecently assaulted a third.

Samuel Nugent, 86, was given an absolute discharge at Derby Crown Court on Monday.

He was not present at the hearing.

The pensioner, who lives at the Lyn Gilzean Court care home in St Ann’s, has dementia, and was unfit to plead to the charges.

He faced a hearing of facts in February and a jury found he committed all ten of the accusations made against him.

He was indicted for three rapes on one girl, six indecent assaults on a second and raping a third girl, all while a respected church elder at a city church during the 70s and 80s. All the girls were under the age of 16.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Nirmal Shant said: “This does not in any way detract from the seriousness of what this defendant did and the havoc he wreaked on each of these complainants’ lives.”

She added that he had pursued “wicked” and “perverted” behaviour from a “position of power in a church”.

She said that because psychiatrists found that he was unfit to stand trial, sentencing guidelines left her with three options – a hospital order, supervision order or an absolute discharge.

But because of his poor state of mental and physical health, and evidence given by doctors that said he was at no risk to himself or others, the judge said her only available option was the absolute discharge.

The court also heard that Nugent is almost blind and almost deaf and incapable of walking between rooms without assistance.

“One can perfectly well understand the frustration but I was satisfied with the evidence that this defendant was not fit to stand trial,” added Judge Shant QC.

“These three complainants have had to wait a long time to see justice but it is right to say that they don’t feel they have had justice.”

The hearing also heard a witness statement from one of the victims who had been raped by Nugent as a teenager.

The woman, whose identity has been protected, said: “I don’t trust people easily and my relationships have suffered greatly. I have been put in a situation where I just felt used and even to the point of feeling abused. There have been times where I have sat and cried and times where I didn’t want to be here because of what he did to me.

“It seems like a lifetime that I have carried this with me.”

Judge Shant added: “The result for her and the other complainants in this case was that they lost their faith in people, they lost their faith in their church and they are frustrated with the criminal justice system.

“On the face of it, given the serious nature of the offending, it may seem incongruous to some and I understand that.”

The church has said Nugent no longer holds a membership and worked there on a voluntary basis as a lay preacher at the time of the offences. A spokesman said he was never employed by the church.