Man’s sex abuse denials not believed by trial jury

A MAN, apparently well thought of in the community, has lost his previous respected reputation after being convicted of historic sex offences.

Denis Merrick, who is of previous good character, is beginning a 70-month prison sentence, following the conviction after a trial at Durham Crown Court.

The 68-year-old defendant, of Biscop Crescent, Newton Aycliffe, who denied five counts of indecency with a child, was found guilty on unanimous jury verdicts on all charges after the three-day hearing, on Wednesday.

He returned to the court yesterday, to learn his fate from trial judge, Ray Singh.

Ahead of the sentencing, the court heard an impact statement, read by the victim, who only felt able to report the offending to police three years ago, long after the events of their younger days.

They spoke of the blight the abuse endured has had on their life and the subsequent mental health difficulties arising from the ordeal.

The victim, who gave evidence during the trial, stated they were “haunted” in all the intervening years and the three-year quest for justice has been, “the hardest battle of my life.”

The victim said: “I’m relieved it’s all over and I have been heard”, adding: “I stand here representing every other survivor of this horrific crime.”

Anthony Dunne, prosecuting, said due to the defendant’s age and state of health the Crown does not believe a Sexual Harm Prevention Order was required in this case.

Nicholas Askins, in mitigation, who presented several character testimonials to the court on behalf of Merrick, said: “Evidence of his previous good character at the trial remains a significant feature in his favour.”

But he added that with his limited mobility, the defendant faces a difficult experience in custody.

Jailing him for a total of five years and ten months, Judge Singh told Merrick: “Twelve members of the public were sure you committed these offences.

“You denied them, stating that it did not happen and you were vague about the details.”

Judge Singh said he hopes the outcome of the case could bring the victim, “some element of closure for the abuse suffered at your hands.”

He made Merrick subject of indefinite notification requirements. as a sex offender.

The Northern Echo | Durham