A pensioner who sexually abused and raped a young girl in the 1980s has escaped without punishment because he is suffering from dementia.
A judge at Warwick Crown Court had her hands tied because abuser Richard Nealon has been found to be suffering from dementia and was unfit to stand trial.
Nealon (72) of Honiwell Close, Harbury, near Leamington, had denied three charges of indecently assaulting the girl in the 1980s and one of raping her.
A trial began at the court at the end of April – but the jury was discharged because of concerns over his ability to follow the evidence.
His barrister Simon Hunka told the judge on the second day of the trial: “I am struggling to give and receive instructions.”
And discharging the jury on that occasion, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano explained: “He is failing to understand or retain any of the evidence, and is unable to answer questions in any meaningful way. It is clear he is unable to concentrate.”
Subsequent medical reports have shown that Nealon is suffering from dementia and was unfit to stand trial because of his inability to follow the evidence.
So instead a ‘trial of the facts’ took place in Nealon’s absence, at which a jury heard evidence and had to decide whether he ‘did the acts alleged.’
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said that in the 1980s Nealon’s home was ‘an open house’ for children.
On one occasion his victim, who was six or seven at the time, turned up to see one of his children, who was out at the time.
Nealon told her to come in and wait, and he touched her indecently.
On another occasion he approached a den the girl and other children had made and, as she was lying in it with her head and upper body inside and her lower body and legs outside, he touched her indecently.
Nealon had a collection of pornographic magazines and videos at his home, and he took opportunities to show them to her before sexually abusing her.
Then on one occasion when she was visiting when she was 11 or 12, he touched her indecently and sexually abused her as she was watching television.
The girl kept quiet about what had happened for many years until another person confessed to a psychiatrist that he had committed an offence against her when she was about six.
As a result the police were contacted, and when they traced her, she told them what Nealon had done to her.
When Nealon was arrested the police found a stash of pornographic magazines, and in the unallocated space on his computer were three images of child pornography.
He denied the offences when he was interviewed, but could give no explanation for why his victim would lie.
And questioned by Mr Hunka, she denied that she had fabricated what she had said about Nealon.
After the jury found that Nealon had committed the acts, which does not count as a conviction, Judge de Bertodano was left with just three options.
In such circumstances the law allows only for a hospital order under the Mental Health Act, a supervision order or an absolute discharge.
The judge pointed out that a hospital order could not be made because Nealon was not suffering from a treatable condition, and his dementia meant he would not be able take in what was said to him under a supervision order.
So that left an absolute discharge as the only option.