June 2016

Horrific sex offender fails in bid to have jail sentence cut by Court of Appeal

A pensioner who was told he might die in prison after he was jailed for a string of horrific sex offences has failed in a bid for a cut in his sentence.

David Atkins, 77, abused the 11-year-old girl after befriending her while living in Leicester more than 40 years ago.

He claimed the allegations were made up, but was convicted of four indecent assaults and another serious sex attack.

He was jailed for 11 years at Leicester Crown Court in April last year.

Yesterday, his case was back in court as his lawyers launched a Court of Appeal bid for a shorter sentence.

But it took Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing, Lord Justice Simon and Judge Clement Goldstone QC less than an hour to reject Atkins’ appeal.

Mrs Justice Laing dismissed a challenge to the most serious conviction and said the total sentence which he received was fully justified.

Appearing via a video link from prison, Atkins slumped in his seat and bowed and shook his head as the court’s judgment was announced.

Ruling on the case, Mrs Justice Laing said the offences against the girl had taken place decades ago.

However, she did not come forward with the allegations until 2013.

Atkins, of Furzehill, Sidbury, Sidmouth, was interviewed and claimed all of the woman’s claims were untrue.

He was convicted by a jury in February last year.

But he argued on appeal that his trial relating to the most serious charge was unfair.

The jury should have been allowed to convict him of a much less serious offence, his lawyers argued.

The total sentence he received was in any case far too long, they added.

He had since lived a law-abiding life and had been able to put forward 15 character references, the judges were told.

After rejecting his appeal against the conviction, Mrs Justice Laing said the total sentence was a fair one.

She said: “‘The judge was sentencing in this case for a course of abuse. He noted the effect that the offences had on the complainant.”

She added: “He took into account Atkins’ age, the good life he had led since and all the references.

‘We don’t consider that the overall sentence of 11 years’ imprisonment was manifestly excessive.”