In the Media

Man, 86, jailed for teenager rape

PUBLISHED April 20, 2006

An 86-year-old man has been given an eight-year prison sentence for the rape of a teenager more than 20 years ago.

Former police officer Clifford Francombe, of Southgate, Gower, raped the 15-year-old girl when he was 65.

His victim made a complaint after discussing the 1985 attack years later with a family friend.

Jailing Francombe at Swansea Crown Court, Judge Keith Thomas said his "exceptional" age had prevented him from receiving a longer sentence.

Francombe - who was arrested over the rape allegation in July 2005 - told the court the woman, now in her 30s, had invented the story.

Giving evidence, the woman said she had tried to hide what happened, but eventually made a complaint after talking to a family friend who was a police officer.

Francombe was found guilty by a jury in February and warned he faced a prison term.

Jailing Francombe for eight years on Wednesday, Judge Keith Thomas said: "The psychological harm to the victim must be substantial.

"She found the experience very difficult to deal with."

He told Francombe: "You are a man of previous good character, a man held in high esteem in the community.

"That in a way aggravates your level of abuse and culpability."

He added that were it not for Francombe's "exceptional" age, he would have received an even longer sentence.

He was ordered to register with the police as a sex offender "indefinitely" and banned from ever working with children.

His barrister David Harris told the judge that Francombe had a previously good character and was a respected member of his community.

He said that he had been a police officer in Essex during World War II and had "shown quite remarkable bravery" by rescuing somebody from a burning building that had been bombed.

Mr Harris said Francombe would find jail "very hard".

"One does not know how many years Mr Francombe has left, but any prison sentence imposed on a man of his age will eat very significantly into what life he has left."