The poor health of a pensioner’s wife saved him from being jailed for child indecency offences.
William Reynolds, 80, had pleaded not guilty to three charges of gross indecency with a child under the age of 14 but was found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court in February.
Judge John Devaux sentenced him on Friday to 18 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years. Reynolds was also ordered to pay £2,800 prosecution costs and sign on the Sexual Offences Register for 10 years.
Judge Devaux said the prison term would have been activated immediately if not for the poor health of Reynolds’ wife. The court heard Reynolds was the principal carer for his wife, who had suffered serious illness and has agoraphobia.
Reynolds, of Top Road, Rattlesden, committed the offences between 1998 and 2000. The two victims, were schoolgirls at the time and cannot be identified for legal reasons. After Reynolds was sentenced, their mother said it was ‘devastating’ that he had been allowed to walk free from court.
During the trial, the older of the girls told the court that she had been touched by Reynolds and was asked to touch him indecently.
The girl, now in her late teens, said Reynolds had exposed himself to her while they were alone in a room. She said: “Afterwards it seemed just so odd.”
She said it was the only incident of inappropriate behaviour involving her and Reynolds. She said she had not reported it sooner because she had been embarrassed and worried.
The second girl who made allegations against Reynolds, and who is also now in her teens, claimed he had touched her and she had been asked to indecently touch him on a number of occasions although she could not be sure how many.
The jury heard from Reynolds that he could not explain why the girls had made the claims.
He said that none of the incidents they had described had ever happened.