Monthly Archives: April 2012
An Army veteran who crashed a tanker laden with 2,000 litres of fuel into his estranged wife’s home in an attempt to destroy it has been jailed for seven years.
Lorry driver Hugh Billington, 51, drove the seven-and-a-half tonne lorry loaded with kerosene through the front of the bungalow causing £235,000 of damage.
Christine Billington was in the kitchen when her husband mounted the pavement and crashed into the house.
She fled in terror and climbed over a wall into a neighbour’s garden to escape the melee on the morning of January 20 this year.
As children with their parents walked past the bungalow on their way to school in Wool, Dorset, Billington attempted to raze the property to the ground by lighting kerosene he had poured around four rooms.
Billington, who had an “exemplary” record in nearly 25 years’ service with the Household Regiment, then fled the scene.
Dorchester Crown Court heard that it was only good fortune that the tanker did not explode.
At an earlier hearing, Billington, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, assault by beating, dangerous driving and theft.
He denied the more serious charge of arson with intent to endanger life, a plea that was accepted by the Crown and ordered to lie on file.
At the time of the incident, Billington was on bail for an allegation of domestic violence against his wife and was the subject of restraining order.
Passing sentence Judge Roger Jarvis said several senior Army officers had spoken very highly of Billington’s service and this made this case “more tragic”.
“So far as these offences are concerned you were at the time on bail,” he said.
“Your behaviour towards your wife had already come to the attention of the authorities.
“You took a tanker with 2,000 litres of kerosene and drove it towards your former matrimonial home.
“On driving it into the house kerosene was released.
“The valves were fortunately not fully open and if they had and the fire had caught properly it needs very little imagination to imagine what would happen – there would have been an enormous bomb.
“What concerns me is that it happened when people are walking to school and that is a deeply troubling feature and shows how wickedly irresponsible you were.”
As well as the jail term, Judge Jarvis banned Billington from driving for five years and imposed a restraining order banning him from direct contact with his wife indefinitely.
Prosecutor Jennie Rickman told the court that Billington and his wife had separated after 30 years and he would not accept the marriage was over.
He had moved out of their home the previous December and had been ordered by a court not to contact his wife or go to the marital home.
At 6.30am on the morning of the incident lorry driver Billington picked up the Watson Fuels tanker from his employer and drove to his former home in Folly Lane.
Mrs Billington, who is understood to run a dog-grooming business, was at home preparing to go to work when the tanker crashed through the bungalow at 8.45am.
Billington maintained that his wife had a routine and that she should have already left for work when he struck.
“Mrs Billington was in the kitchen and she heard and almighty crash as she entered the hall she saw the truck had gone through the front of the house and had made a hole in the wall,” Miss Rickman said.
“As a result of that she went into the garden and over a wall into the neighbours’ house and raised the alarm.”
Billington had not expected his wife to be home and as he spread kerosene through the bungalow he checked she had fled.
Having also turned on the gas cooker, Billington then set light to the kerosene and ran off.
“After Mrs Billington ran out of the house Mr Billington started a number of fires,” Miss Rickman said.
“From the basis of plea it is fair to say that the defendant knew Mrs Billington was not in the property.”
Several witnesses had seen the unfolding incident and went to help, she explained.
Trevor Knott, an off-duty special constable, tried to apprehend Billington as he escaped on foot.
Mr Knott was unable to stop him as Billington assaulted him by kicking him.
Darren Fletcher, another witness, had also seen what Billington had done and he risked his own life by driving the fuel tanker out of immediate danger.
“It seems a fire was lit on the grass underneath the lorry and it was perhaps that which led him to get into the vehicle and reverse it back off the grass and on to the road,” Miss Rickman said.
“Having done that he went to the house and tried to put the fires out but unfortunately the fire was too fierce.”
About 30 firefighters tackled the blaze at the couple’s bungalow, which suffered “significant” damage in the fire.
Three hours later police arrested Billington, who was wearing a boiler suit and a rugby shirt he had stolen from a washing line owned by Oliver Towers.
Upon his arrest he asked police: “Was anybody hurt?”
“Police attended his place of work found a note written by him which appeared to be written to his children,” the prosecutor said.
The court heard that following the incident Mrs Billington has been left homeless with the fire destroying the bungalow and many of her possessions.
“She says she has been having nightmares and she has lost a lot of confidence,” Miss Rickman said.
Timothy Shorter, defending, described Billington’s “exemplary” military career and said that during the first Gulf War he worked as a medic treating injured servicemen arriving back at RAF Lyneham from Iraq.
“He is a man who for more than a quarter of a century served his country honourably,” he said.
“But through one day’s folly and stupidity he finds himself facing a substantial sentence of imprisonment.
“There are two words which perhaps sum up what happened to Mr Billington in those few hours immediately before the incident and they are his words: ‘something snapped’.
“He is clearly a man who has served his country and clearly something snapped. During his lengthy prison sentence he has to find within himself why that happened.
“There is no doubt that Mr Billington is remorseful.
“He is someone who his whole life has been a leader of men and is someone that people looked up to.
“He knows what he did that day was thoroughly and ashamedly wrong and he knows it could have led to something worse.
“To put it bluntly he is very, very sorry for what happened that day.”
Mr Shorter added: “Whatever this man did that day, which was wholly wrong, at least before he deliberately set the fires he had the common decency to check the house was empty.”
As Judge Jarvis passed sentence he said it was only “good fortune” that the incident had not been more serious.
“It is in my view, that it is the most extremely good fortune that the incident was not more serious,” the judge said.
“The impact upon Mrs Billington has been serious and profound and she had lost just about everything.
“I am told that you are full of remorse and so you should be. You have behaved in a very wicked way indeed.
“The offences are very serious offences indeed and if you had pleaded not guilty and had been found guilty I would have sentenced you into custody for 10 years.
“Having regard to your plea and what I have heard about you I sentence you to seven years’ imprisonment.”
The judge also praised the bravery of Mr Fletcher, who had reversed the tanker out of danger.
“Everybody needs to pay tribute to the actions of Darren Fletcher who must have realised there was some real risk to himself,” he said.
“These are the actions of a very brave person.”
Balding Billington, who was wearing a grey suit, white shirt and claret tie, showed no emotion as he was led away to start his sentence.
Mrs Billington did not wish to comment as she left court.
Speaking after the case, Ms Rickman, crown advocate of the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex, said: “This has been an extreme example of domestic violence which caused significant damage to the property and presented a significant risk to the welfare of those near the property at the time, in particular those who came to the assistance of Mrs Billington.
“On Friday January 20, at about 8.45am, Hugh Billington, a lorry driver, drove a 7.5-tonne fuel tanker containing 2,000 litres of kerosene into the front wall of his estranged wife’s home before starting a number of fires around both the tanker and inside the house.
“While he was running from the scene, an off-duty special constable, Trevor Knott, attempted to detain him but lost his grip when he was assaulted by the defendant. Billington pleaded guilty to this assault.
“The house is in a residential area close to a primary school and a number of families passed the house that morning on their way to school.
“It is fortunate that Mrs Billington was unharmed and no one else was seriously injured in this incident.
“A passing motorist, Darren Fletcher, on noticing a fire under the tanker, bravely climbed into the cab and reversed it away from the house and on to the road before attempting to put out the fire inside the house with the assistance of the special constable. However, the fire was too intense for them and soon after the fire brigade arrived and extinguished the blaze.
“It is clear that this was a very traumatic incident for Mrs Billington, who continues to suffer the effects of the events of that day, the loss of her home and the majority of her personal possessions.
“I hope that following the conclusion of this case, Mrs Billington can now start to rebuild her life.”
A man accused of murdering a gay supermarket worker embarked on a campaign against uncaught paedophiles using “military strategy” to track them down after overhearing convicted prisoners planning new offences while in prison, a court heard.
Christopher Hunnisett, who is on trial accused of killing supermarket worker Peter Bick, told the court he used the internet and a network of “live sources” – some made in prison - to investigate rumours of child abuse.
He assigned possible offenders militaristic “call signs” depending on the strength of evidence against them, he said.
The jury at Lewes Crown Court was told Hunnisett, 28, started the operation after being acquitted and freed in September 2010 following a retrial for the murder of the Rev Ronald Glazebrook, whom he accused of abusing him, for which he had already served nine years of a life sentence.
While on remand ahead of the second trial, the court heard today, he took part in “therapy sessions” at Grendon Underwood prison in Buckinghamshire, designed as a form of restorative justice to try to treat sex offenders. But he overheard offenders planning a paedophile ring.
Hunnisett told the court today he investigated Bick, 57, after being told a “rumour” about him, saying the police lacked enough power to catch paedophiles.
Giving evidence, he told the court that after “philosophy” discussions with other prisoners on how to deal with sex offenders, he decided he wanted to track down “rapists, paedophiles, those who force women into prostitution, sex traffickers” by breaking the law and hacking into profiles on sex websites to see what users were doing – something he claimed the police cannot do.
“There are so many paedophiles in this country, over 600,000 who just offend against children,” he said.
“Even if I stopped more than 100 a day I would take over 20 years to deal with them. It is impossible for one person to stop them all.
“I commend the police and the child protection agencies for what they are doing but they are beaten by certain rules and regulations.
“If you really want to find out … you have to look at their (website) profiles and see who they are talking to. It is not hard to find these people but the police are beaten by the rules.”
While in the witness box Hunnisett used military terms like “in the field” to describe how he investigated claims of sex offending, using call signs like “Sierra” to describe a “suspect” and “Tango” to describe a “target” against whom he had proof of illegal activities.
One they had been “dealt with” they were reclassified as “x-ray”.
He admitted reading books about intelligence agencies to help him plan his activities.
He said he tracked down Bick after a contact gave him the name of a “Peter” living in Bexhill, showed him a digital picture and told him a “rumour” of what he was alleged to have done.
Hunnisett said he investigated and met several men called Peter before he found Mr Bick.
Mr Bick was killed during the early hours of January 11 last year after Hunnisett, whom he had met for sex, inflicted five severe blows to his head with a hammer and strangled him with a shoelace, the court has been told previously.
The jury has also heard that Hunnisett wrote to his girlfriend, Lucy Anderson, while on remand, admitting the killing.
It read: “I know you do not understand why I did what I did. In short, I simply wanted to stop some really nasty people hurting kids, the young, the weak, the vulnerable.
“I never planned to hurt him, I just wanted to stop him, get evidence on him to get him to confess and tell people what he was.”
Hunnisett went on to tell Miss Anderson that when Mr Bick confessed to him he lost control, the court heard.
He added: “You have no idea how mad it makes me knowing that someone can do that and they think it’s okay.
“It’s disgusting and they have no idea how much it destroys a person and damages them, and no one gives a damn about it.”
The trial has already heard there is no evidence that Mr Bick was a paedophile.
Hunnisett, of Chanctonbury Drive, Hastings, East Sussex, denies murder but admits manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.
Hunnisett told the court how he killed Mr Bick while “interrogating” him using techniques that were “the same sort of thing as waterboarding” – before leaving to watch another potential target.
He said he had his body extensively tattooed with symbols of his “moral code” while inprison and his plan with each target was to gain enough evidence to allow the police to arrest them and have them imprisoned “for ever”.
He said he had contacted Mr Bick via a website and met him at his flat, where he claimed the older man had admitted committing sex acts with youths aged 14 and 16.
He then attempted to “honeytrap” him, claiming he could arrange a threesome with himself and a public schoolboy aged 15, whom he invented using the online alias “Golden Boy”, while the boy’s parents were away on holiday.
He claimed Mr Bick agreed but before it was due to happen he travelled to Bexhill, where he told him the boy was unable to join them.
Hunnisett said he then stripped naked and committed a sex act while Mr Bick watched, claiming it was part of his cover. Under the pretext of sex games he then tied the also naked Mr Bick to his bed with shoelaces tied around his neck, saying the older man had admitted it was something he had done with one of the young boys.
But as soon as Mr Bick was restrained Hunnisett began to use force, grabbing a camera and ordering Mr Bick to make a videotape confession of his alleged crimes, which Hunnisett claimed he did.
“I think he thought I was going to blackmail him with the information,” he said.
“When I told him I was going to expose him, that is when he started to struggle and he got his hand free and got me by the throat around the neck.
“With his other hand he reached for a box on the (bedside) table. He then went to grab the hammer that was there but he was restricted by the neck lace.
“He was able to grasp it by his fingertips and I was able to wrench it from his hand.
“I hit him once to get his hand off me but it got tighter. I hit him three, maybe four times after that.”
He said the man “was probably dead after the first blow” but he tried to undo the shoelace when he slumped forward and it started to choke him.
After the killing Hunnisett told the court he thought about committing suicide but decided against it. He said he washed Mr Bick’s body and spent three or four hours “proving” the flat, scouring it for evidence of sex crimes, which he claimed he found.
He said he destroyed electronic equipment, including laptops and memory sticks with the evidence on, but left the body surrounded by items he hoped would lead police to work out why Mr Bick had been killed.
He then stole Mr Bick’s car and disposed of seven bags of stolen material, including the hammer, in remote locations. He then drove to another target, named in court only as Mr A, whom he suspected of sex attacks on girls, to watch his home.
The trial continues.
A juror from Blackpool jailed for contempt of court after going on holiday during a trial lost a challenge against her sentence.
Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London rejected a plea by Janet Chapman, 52, that the 56-day term imposed on her was “manifestly excessive”.
Chapman, deputy manageress of a residential children’s home, who watched the proceedings via video link from prison, is due to be released on Wednesday after serving half her sentence.
She had listened to three weeks of evidence in a robbery trial at Preston Crown Court, but at the start of the final week telephoned court officials to say she had back pain and could not attend for two weeks.
But it emerged that Chapman flew from Liverpool to Malta for a week’s holiday with her partner.
The trial was delayed for two days while inquiries were made. She was discharged from the jury in her absence and the trial continued and eventually concluded.
Chapman, who is of previous good character, said she thought that obtaining a sick note for sciatica meant she would automatically not have to attend the trial.
She was found guilty of contempt by the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC, who told her he was “driven to the conclusion that you pretended to your doctor that you had a back problem in order that you could take a holiday in Malta”.
Judge Russell said: “Jury service is one of the most important public duties that a citizen of this country can be called upon to perform.
“You have manifestly failed to perform your public duty. Further it is clear that you deliberately deceived the court for your own ends and pleasure, namely taking a holiday in Malta.”
South African authorities today said they were releasing up to 35,000 inmates to ease overcrowding in the nation’s prisons.
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa said some 14,600 prisoners would be released “conditionally or unconditionally”, along with more than 20,000 offenders on probation or parole who qualify to have sentences cut.
President Jacob Zuma announced the pardons, known as special remission of sentences, to mark the anniversary yesterday of Nelson Mandela winning the nation’s first all-race elections in 1994.
Mr Mthethwa said violent criminals and those jailed for sexual, drug-related and weapons offences will not be freed.
Prison overcrowding was being reduced from 34% over capacity to about 20%.
Since 1994, prisoners have been amnestied on several symbolic occasions.
Plans for criminals to report to a machine instead of a probation officer in a bid to cut costs defy belief and risk increasing offending, a union warned today – but the editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners and offenders in England and Wales, described the response of the Probation Officers trade Union NAPO as ‘scaremongering.’
The initiative, which is already being used in the United States, will reduce face-to-face contact between offenders and probation staff, with freed prisoners and those on community orders answering questions automatically posed by a machine.
The probation union Napo warned the scheme would damage public confidence in the supervision of offenders, but probation bosses said it could reduce bureaucracy and help staff make the best use of their time.
An internal policy document acknowledged the trial may have “some disadvantages”, including the danger that a machine will be unable to spot early warning signs of offenders posing an increased risk.
The lack of personal contact on the so-called biometric reporting scheme may also reduce the support offered to offenders, staff have been told.
The document added: “Removal of contact may remove the potential for an early warning of escalation of risk.”
Harry Fletcher, Napo’s assistant general secretary, said the proposal, initially dismissed by many staff as a hoax, was “extraordinary” and would damage public confidence in the probation service.
The pilot scheme, which will apply to all offenders including paedophiles, terrorists and killers, is expected to be trialled in the London boroughs of Bexley and Bromley later this year and may last up to six months, staff have been told.
Higher-risk offenders could be asked to use the machines, which are equipped with fingerprint readers, in addition to face-to-face interviews with probation officers.
According to the document, probation officers “will use their professional judgment to determine to what extent it forms part of an offender’s reporting requirements”.
It added that every offender will continue to have “an appropriate level of face-to-face supervision”.
The scheme will be designed to test whether the move would reduce the time spent by offenders waiting in probation offices and cut the need for staff cover during peak holiday periods and sickness.
It will also test whether using the machines reduces the risk of offenders arranging for someone else to take their place and report to probation for them.
But Napo said it was not aware of any widespread use of imposters.
The union added the machines cost £130,000 a year for each London borough, taking the annual cost across the capital to £4.16 million.
The machines will ask offenders a series of questions, including whether they have changed address or employment, if they have been arrested, or if they wish to speak to someone.
But Mr Fletcher said there was the risk that some offenders may be able to manipulate the system by lying and falsely suggesting they were complying with orders.
“When the idea of machines rather than face-to-face contact was first mooted, staff thought it was a hoax,” he said.
“Sadly it is now grim reality.
“The introduction of machines rather than people into the supervision of community orders made by the courts or of people on licence is extraordinary and defies belief.”
He added that the scheme “will lead to high breach rates and a lack of confidence in the supervisory process”.
“The vast majority of offenders have serious literacy problems, many are dyslexic, most have two or more mental illness and desperately need face-to-face contact and supervision,” he said.
He added the machines could also breach up to 18 Council of Europe rules on community sanctions but, according to the policy document, probation bosses have been given legal advice that offenders can be required to take part in the pilot.
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners and offenders in England and Wales said Harry Fletcher was simply ‘scaremongering’.
Mr Leech said: “Look you have to see these NAPO criticisms as those of a Trade Union representing its members – but Harry Fletcher and everyone in NAPO knows that to imply sex offenders and murderers are going to be turfed out on the streets without face to face assessment with a Probation Officer is simply ludicrous – it’s scaremongering.
“I was on probation and after a while, once I had settled down into a job and kept all appointments, my visits to the probation officer were a waste of both of our time – far from reducing supervision this actually increases the amount of supervision time that can be given to the most dangerous offenders.”
London Probation Trust said the initiative was a research project which would “explore the potential use of biometric technology within probation”.
The scheme will not replace the trust’s statutory responsibility to provide face-to-face meetings with offenders, officials said.
Heather Munro, the trust’s chief executive, added: “London Probation Trust intends to research biometric reporting of offenders to support our key aims of protecting the public and reducing reoffending.
“We believe reducing the bureaucracy probation officers have to deal with, in order to increase the time spent in face-to-face meetings, is an important step.
“We are looking at various ways of doing this, from increasing the number of probation officers to investigating the use of technology to improve our ability to monitor offenders – we want to use the time of professional practitioners where it is most needed.”
A Greater Manchester tycoon who made a fortune selling fake Viagra tablets has been ordered to pay back more than £14 million or face 10 years in jail.
Martin Hickman, 52, lived in a four-bedroom farmhouse in Ashton-Under-Lyne, owned a property in Marbella, Spain and paid £2.5 million for a riverside Chelsea apartment in west London.
Hickman also drove a top-of-the-line Range Rover with a number plate bearing his initials, and a Bentley with a number plate L13 RGE.
The former bankrupt businessman funded his luxury lifestyle by selling millions of pounds worth of unlicensed Viagra-like erectile dysfunction drugs over the internet.
Investigators found that his website, MSH World Traders, had a turnover of £6.1 million in just three years and made him a profit of £3.4 million.
But some of the pills he was buying from India and selling to clients all over Europe were fakes, made to look like the licensed Viagra product, and others were not legal to sell in the UK.
Hickman, of Lily Lanes, Ashton-under-Lyne, was jailed for two years in 2009, following a criminal investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Hickman claims he now has no assets and is ‘Hard Up’.
He was sentenced to a further 22 months in prison in January 2011 for Contempt of Court after he tried to obtain a passport by deception and for selling a property in breach of a court restraint order. He is not currently serving a jail sentence.
At Southwark Crown Court on Friday, Hickman was found to have benefited by £15,427,850.28 from his criminal enterprise. He was ordered to repay £14,407,850.28 within six months or face a further 10 years in prison and still be liable for the order.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Ashton, head of the NWRART, said: “This case sends out a clear message to organised criminals that law enforcement agencies, working in partnership, will continue to pursue those involved in serious crime.”
A rapist acquitted of a “devastating” sex attack more than 25 years ago was finally jailed today following the discovery of conclusive DNA evidence.
Alexander McGuire, 61, escaped justice for a quarter of a century after he was wrongly found innocent when he stood trial.
Forensic evidence gathered during his victim’s original medical examination was re-examined using new techniques and revealed a DNA profile which matched McGuire’s.
He pleaded guilty to the 1986 rape in March after detectives concluded the likelihood they had got the wrong man was one in a billion.
He was today handed an eight-year prison term at Reading Crown Court. He will serve half this time behind bars, minus the number of days he has already spent in custody.
The court heard that McGuire pounced on married mother-of-three Joy Smith while she was at work at a branch of McDonald’s in November 1986.
Mrs Smith, who has waived her right to anonymity, was on a late shift and went down to the restaurant’s lower area to use the toilet at around 9pm.
As she emerged from the cubicle, she was confronted by McGuire who told her he had a knife, pushed her back through the door and raped her.
He was arrested some months after the attack in Windsor, Berkshire, charged and tried but found not guilty on the orders of the judge.
The verdict came despite evidence from his victim, then 29, who was able to pick out her attacker in an identity parade.
Years later, her ordeal was reinvestigated by Thames Valley Police’s major crime review squad.
Using methods of DNA analysis which were not available to the original investigation team, they were able to pin the crime on McGuire.
Officers applied to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consent for the case to be reinvestigated under double jeopardy legislation contained within the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
McGuire was arrested at his home in Greyhound View, Sandy, Bedfordshire, last July 2011 and the original trial verdict was quashed in December.
Passing sentence today, Judge Zoe Smith said: “These are matters on which nightmares are made.
“There can be no woman or man who can think of circumstances more terrifying than this.
“For your victim, not only did she have to deal with the impact of the rape itself and the terror that she had felt, but such was her distress that she and her family felt obliged to leave the area, leave her job and, because this is a cold case review, we know now the devastating effect that that event had on her life.”
Mrs Smith, 53, who attended court for the hearing, wept as McGuire was jailed.
Staring straight ahead, the balding and bespectacled defendant, dressed in jeans, a blue shirt and grey jumper, showed no emotion as his sentence was handed down.
Earlier, the court was told McGuire, who served with the Scots Guards, had a “very serious” history of sexual offending. He was jailed for three years at the Old Bailey in 1980 for two counts of rape and one count of burglary with intent to commit rape.
At the time it was noted: “This man will undoubtedly come to the notice of police again with respect of sex offences.”
“That turned out to be tragically prophetic,” said Alan Blake, prosecuting.
McGuire, who was dishonourably discharged from the Armed Forces, was imprisoned for a further five years for kidnapping a 17-year-old girl just three months after the 1986 attack.
Mrs Smith, who fled to Germany with her soldier husband Colin, in a bid to move on with her life, went on to suffer panic attacks and depression.
In a statement read to the court, the victim, now a grandmother, said: “I knew the right man was in court (on the first occasion) and couldn’t believe that he had got off.
“But I decided to get on with my life and try and carry on.
“He walked free from court that day to enjoy his life while I was left with a life sentence and the worry that he would find me again.”
The court heard how unspecified “legal submissions” made in his case in the 1980s led to his acquittal.
Judge Smith told McGuire he would be given credit for his early guilty plea in the second set of proceedings but added: “The court cannot wholly ignore the fact that there was a trial in 1986, so I take that into account when passing sentence upon you.”
Standing outside court alongside her 53-year-old husband, who left the Army in 1992 and now works as a driver, and her eldest son Billy, 33, Mrs Smith spoke of the “shadow” which has hung over her for more than two decades.
“To see him (McGuire) walk in was a big shock because it was just like yesterday… like I was seeing it again,” she said.
“When the judge was summing up, I was watching him and he started breathing deeply and I thought, yes, it’s affecting him.”
Mrs Smith, who now lives in Darlington, Co Durham, added: “It’s just been a shadow hanging over me, constantly there when you go out, the fear that something will happen, it’s been constant.
“I couldn’t get past it, I couldn’t get on with my life. It was always there and you can’t get away from it.
“But I felt today like I let go of it, hopefully, and put it behind me as best I can.
“It’s been a bad few years. I knew he was guilty – 26 years ago, I knew he was guilty – but I had to wait until now for him to admit it.”
Explaining her decision to waive her anonymity, she added: “I want other women to realise being raped is nothing to be ashamed of – they need to come forward.
“I have spent too many years being ashamed but I want people to know there’s no stigma. Being raped is nothing to be ashamed of.
“I just want them (other victims) to know that they can do it.
“Even if I only help a couple of people, it’s a couple more than before.”
Mrs Smith said her three children, Billy, Christopher, 32, and Georgina, 29, were “relieved” the family could now move on.
Baljit Ubhey, chief crown prosecutor of Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service paid tribute to Mrs Smith saying: “Time has not diminished the effect this incident has had on her life. She has waited 26 long years for today’s result.”
And she said McGuire would have escaped justice were it not for a change in legislation and the fresh police investigation.
“The CPS took the exceptional step of making an application to the Court of Appeal to quash the acquittal of McGuire and order a re-trial, and the Court of Appeal agreed with the application,” she said.
The “new and compelling evidence” was so strong that McGuire recognised he had “little option” but to plead guilty, she added.
“This case highlights the commitment of the police and CPS to prosecute cases involving violence against women.
“Today’s outcome also demonstrates to people who commit such offences that they are never safe from justice and that our determination to ensure that justice is done remains undimmed, even years after offences are committed.”
Detective Constable Alison Brown welcome the sentence and said police would continue to use “every tool available” to bring historic offenders to justice.
“McGuire thought he had got away with his horrendous crime when he was originally acquitted over 25 years ago,” she said.
“However, due to the advances in forensic technology and new legislation under double jeopardy, Thames Valley Police and the CPS were able to prosecute him and he has finally been punished for his crime.”
A former leader of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers has been jailed for four years for stealing almost £150,000 from a charity which cared for elderly miners.
Neil Greatrex, 61, showed no obvious emotion as Judge John Wait described the thefts from the Nottinghamshire Miners Home charity as breaches of the highest degree of trust.
Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Wait told Greatrex – the UDM’s president between 1987 and 2009 – that he was guilty of “calculated and sophisticated” greed.
Greatrex, from Stanley, near Teversal, Nottinghamshire, was convicted of 14 counts of theft by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court earlier this month.
Jurors heard that the former £110,000-a-year head of the UDM had created false invoices before stealing £148,628 from charity funds to pay for improvement work on his own property and that of UDM general secretary Mick Stevens.
Judge Wait, who heard that Greatrex was earning a salary of £67,000 as long ago as 1987, told the disgraced union official: “As a trustee of the charity you were not entitled to profit from your role.
“You saw an opportunity to make personal profit at the expense of those less fortunate than yourself whose interest you had agreed as trustee to protect.
“Over the years you wanted works done at your own home and the home of your co-director – outside paving, a new kitchen, new windows and doors, many supplies of building materials.
“Works and materials that with the salary you were paid you could have afforded.
“This was calculated and dishonest greed.”
It also emerged during the sentencing hearing that Greatrex received a contribution towards the cost of his mortgage from the Mansfield-based UDM, which he helped to found in 1985.
Although Judge Wait accepted that Greatrex did not directly benefit from all of the monies stolen, he ruled that there was no mitigation for the offences.
The judge told Greatrex, who appeared in the dock wearing a grey suit and a black shirt: “Over the period of this indictment, you stole very nearly £150,000 from those you held office to protect.
“This was theft in breach of the highest degree of trust. It was carried out over an extended period by the person in whom the highest trust had been placed.”
Stevens, 60, was cleared of all 14 counts of theft at the earlier trial, which heard that the union officials were both trustees of the Nottinghamshire Miners Home charity.
Between 2000 and 2006, Greatrex billed the nursing home for £148,628 for improvement work which was actually being done on his and Stevens’ properties, including an £11,750 kitchen and other building and landscaping work, the court heard.
Stevens told the court he paid for improvements made on his own home by cash or through a separate company he and Greatrex ran.
He said he would not have authorised any payment through the charity for such work.
Greatrex told the court that he had billed the care home for a new kitchen for his own house, but that the money was taken in lieu of a salary.
But Stevens told the jury he himself did not expect a salary and that he was unaware Greatrex had taken one.
During the trial, the jury heard that one of the charity’s rules was that none of the trustees should take any benefit from it.
Greatrex spent more than 20 years in the National Union of Mineworkers before helping to form the UDM and became a controversial figure for speaking out against NUM president Arthur Scargill’s tactics in the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
A former mining union leader is facing a jail term today after being convicted of stealing nearly £150,000 from a charity that ran a care home for sick and elderly miners earlier this month.
Neil Greatrex, 61, the former president of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM), is to be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court after he was convicted of stealing £148,628 from the Nottinghamshire Miners Charity which ran the Phoenix Care Home in Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire.
Greatrex claimed the money was spent on improvement work at the care home, but a jury at Nottingham Crown Court found him guilty of 14 counts of theft following a two-week trial which heard the work, including a £11,750 kitchen, was actually being done on his own properties and those of UDM general secretary Mick Stevens.
Stevens, 60, UDM general secretary, was cleared of all 14 counts of theft at the same hearing.
Following the verdict, Judge John Wait told Greatrex: “You have been convicted of a series of serious frauds against union members who had placed their trust in you.
“I see only one possible sentence – to spell it out that is a prison sentence.”
During the trial, the jury heard Greatrex, from Stanley, near Teversal, Nottinghamshire, and Stevens were trustees of the Nottinghamshire Miners Home Charity.
Between 2000 and 2006, Greatrex billed the nursing home for £148,628 for alleged improvement work which was actually being done on his and Mr Stevens’ properties, including a £11,750 kitchen and other building and landscaping work, the court heard.
Stevens told the court he paid for improvements made on his own home by cash or through a separate company he and Greatrex ran.
He said he would not have authorised any payment through the charity for such work.
Greatrex told the court that he had billed the care home for a new kitchen for his own house, but that the money was taken in lieu of a salary.
“I believed I was entitled to a reasonable salary and expenses from the home for the work that I was doing for it,” he said.
But Stevens told the court he himself did not expect a salary and that he was unaware Greatrex had taken one.
During the trial, the jury heard one of the charity rules was that none of the trustees should take any benefit from it.
Speaking after the verdict, Michelle Russell, head of investigations and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: “Charity trustees have responsibilities to act in the best interests of the charity, and the theft of charitable funds is absolutely unacceptable.
“We welcome this conviction, which also disqualifies Mr Greatrex from acting as trustee.
“The Charity Commission has worked closely with South Yorkshire Police on this case and we also opened our own statutory inquiry into the charity in August 2007.
“In 2008, we appointed an interim manager to the charity, who remains responsible for its property and administration.
“Now that criminal proceedings are concluded, we will look at any outstanding regulatory issues relating to our inquiry and publish a report once it is completed.
“We welcome the police application for compensation on behalf of the charity.”
Greatrex spent more than 20 years in the National Union of Mineworkers before forming the UDM in 1985.
He became a controversial figure for speaking out against NUM president Arthur Scargill’s tactics in the 1985 strikes.
In an interview on the UDM website he said his own father did not talk to him for six years after the strike.
More than a third of juvenile offenders went on to commit another offence within a year, figures showed today.
But in some parts of England and Wales, this rose to almost half, according to the latest Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures.
Almost 36,000 of the 110,000 young offenders aged under 18 who were cautioned, convicted or released from custody between July 2009 and June 2010 committed another offence within 12 months.
They committed more than 100,000 further offences between them, an average of almost three each, the figures showed.
But the reoffending rates varied considerably in youth offending teams across England and Wales – from Merthyr Tydfil, in South Wales, where 48.8% of the 160 offenders committed a further offence, to Bracknell Forest, in Berkshire, where the figure was 23.3% of 103 offenders.
Officials said a large part of this variability “reflects the mix of offenders” who are managed by the different teams.
The figures also showed that, since 2000, reoffending among juveniles who received a community penalty rose by 5.5%, while falling by 7.5% for those who received a custodial sentence.
The Prison Reform Trust, said: “The number of children committing offences over the 12 months covered by the report fell by a fifth, the number reoffending by 17%, and the number of further offences by 15%, significant reductions which reflect the success of concerted efforts by police, youth offending teams and others to tackle youth crime.
“Marked geographical variations in reoffending indicate that there are lessons to be learned from high-performing local authorities and show we can and must do more to help children out of trouble.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Overall, reoffending is falling and the majority of criminals do not go on to commit further crimes. However, we believe reoffending rates are still too high.
“We are introducing reforms to break the cycle of youth offending including robust intervention, increasing the use of restorative justice and supporting local programmes which better tackle the root causes of youth crime and reoffending.
“We also want to free up practitioners to give them greater discretion in tackling offending.”