A HOSPITAL order has been made against a Minchinhampton pensioner who raped a 15-year-old girl during a campagn of sexual abuse which left her fearing she may be pregnant.
The order under the Mental Health Act was passed on Norman Byron, 78, at Gloucester Crown Court after a jury unanimously found that he had ‘done the act alleged.’
Byron did not have to stand criminal trial on the rape charge in the usual way because psychiatrists had found him to be suffering from a mental incapacity which meant he was incapable of pleading or taking part in the proceedings.
However, before that diagnosis was made, Byron had pleaded guilty in February last year to seven charges of sexually assaulting the girl.
He admitted he had molested her on at least 20 occasions between August 2014 and January 2016.
When he appeared in court last year he said: “Could I say I am sorry for everything?”
Byron was remanded in custody at that time to await sentence but subsequently the rape charge was preferred against him and a psychiatric assessment led to him being declared unfit to stand trial.
He has been held in a psychiatric hospital rather than prison during the remand period.
This week a jury of nine men and three women has heard the girl give evidence about how Byron raped her between October 31, 2015 and January 1, 2016.
She also related the details of his other sexual assaults on her.
“He touched me everywhere. He pulled down his trousers, held my hand and tried to get me to touch his private parts,” she stated.
She added: “He gives me quite a lot of money and sweets. He said I need to keep it a secret.”
In a second police interview, the girl revealed that Byron had gone further than touching her and had raped her.
However she was so embarrassed, that she couldn’t say the words out loud, and wrote them down on a pad of paper.
The police officer doing the video interview stated “You’ve just written down – ‘Norm forced me to have sex, but it didn’t last long. He did all the other stuff we talked about.’
The girl said: “He undressed me, I didn’t want to be undressed. He forced me into having sex.”
The officer asked her why she had not told her mum about it until a later stage.
She said “Because I missed my period and I was worried about being pregnant.”
Yesterday, after the jury found that Byron did rape the girl, prosecutor Mark Worsley said that because of the medical finding about his mental state, the court had only three sentencing options – an absolute discharge, supervision or a hospital order.
Defending, Anna Knott said three psychiatrists were agreed that Byron was suffering from a mental health condition susceptible to treatment so a hospital order would be the correct conclusion.
Byron, who was not present at the hearing, is said to have cognitive impairment which may lead to dementia.
Mr Worsley read a victim impact statement from the abused girl’s father, who said: “I feel sick that this person has taken advantage of our daughter. He has shown no human decency. ”
The dad said he had to take three months off work because he was so devastated when he found out what Byron had done. He also had to have counselling.
“The impact on me and my family has been devastating and has changed our lives for ever,” he said. “Our daughter had been self harming and overeating. She has missed a whole year of school because she can’t concentrate on her academic work.
“She says she hears his voice at night when she is trying to sleep. ”
Making an indefinite hospital order and also an order for Byron to sign the sex offender register for life, the judge, Recorder Don Tait, said: “One cannot but be moved by the statement that was read to the court from her father.
“It says everything that anyone could say about this sort of offending and the effect it has upon a victim and the wider family.
“I have had the privilege of meeting the victim at the start of this trial. She is quite clearly a bright young woman and, in my opinion, although she has struggled slightly in recent months, she has a bright future.
“I hope she will be able to put these dreadful offences behind her and move on – and I hope the rest of the family will do so as well.”
It must have been terrible for her, he added, when she suspected she may have got pregnant by Byron – but thankfully she was not.
“I am satisfied a hospital order is the only order I am permitted by law to make. There is a bed available for him. What will happen to him thereafter I know not. Whether the victim and her family care what happens to him I suspect not – and that is quite deserved.”