Paedophile pensioner fails to clear name

Ambrose Clifton
Ambrose Clifton

A former council chairman who raped and molested a young child has failed to clear his name after an appeal court bid.

Ambrose Clifton - a former chairman of Brookenby Parish Council - was jailed for 14 years at Lincoln Crown Court in December 2012 after being found guilty of a string of offences against a child.

The 72-year-old, of Field View Road, South Reston, near Louth, took sickening photographs of the youngster, which were found during a police search of his home.

He challenged his convictions at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing he did not receive a fair trial.

But his appeal was thrown out by three of the country’s top judges, who said there was no reason to doubt the safety of the jury’s guilty verdicts.

The court heard Clifton’s crimes came to light in 2010, when the victim told their mother what had happened and police were contacted.

When officers went to his home, they discovered indecent photographs of the young child and also found material on his computer which suggested he had a sexual interest in children.

The court heard the victim was so traumatised by the ordeal that they later refused to talk about the incident and so prosecutors relied on the child’s mother’s testimony during Clifton’s trial.

Clifton denied any wrongdoing, but was found guilty by the jury of rape, sexual assault, causing a child to engage in sexual activity and taking indecent photographs of a child.

His lawyers argued his convictions should be overturned because the child’s version of events could not be tested properly, as the child did not give evidence directly, and there were inconsistencies in the account.

But, dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Fulford said the trial judge handled these issues carefully and his directions to the jury were ‘unimpeachable’.

Sitting with Mr Justice Hickinbottom and Mrs Justice Simler, he added: “The weaknesses and inconsistencies in the child’s evidence were readily identifiable.

“The jury was well placed to test whether these allegations were true or whether, for instance, (the child) had been persuaded to provide a false story.

“The judge’s approach was markedly careful and it was appropriate.”

During the trial the jury heard Clifton committed offences against the child and then warned the youngster they would die if anything was revealed about what happened.

Sentencing, Gareth Evans QC said: “You have been convicted on what I believe was overwhelming evidence.

“It is quite clear that you had no answer to an awful lot of the prosecution case against you.

“You threatened the child. That was a dreadful thing to do.”

Following the sentencing, the victim’s family said: “This has been every parent’s worst nightmare but we now hope to put it behind us and move forward as a family.”