A PENSIONER from south Warwickshire who sexually abused four girls over four decades has finally been brought to justice.
Three of Leslie Austin’s victims had to give evidence twice during trials at Warwick Crown Court after one jury failed to reach verdicts on charges involving them.
That jury had convicted him of a charge relating to one girl – and at a retrial, a second jury found him guilty of all five of the remaining charges relating to the other three victims.
Austin, of Netherstead Cottages, Morton Baggot, near Henley, was jailed for five years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
The 70-year-old had been convicted of five charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault.
During the first of his two trials prosecutor Michael Williams told the jury the offences spanned 40 years, and some of the victims, who all knew the defendant in various ways, were as young as ten or 11.
The earlier offences came to light only following a complaint by the last of Austin’s victims, who he had sexually assaulted after offering to give her a driving lesson.
His first victim, now a woman in her 50s, would sometimes go to his home with her family when she was a young schoolgirl in the 1970s.
He took the opportunity on various occasions when he was alone in a room with her to touch her intimately.
She told her mother what had happened, but it was not reported at the time because she did not want her father to know.
She finally came forward, having confided in her husband what Austin had done, after the police began to investigate his activities.
Another victim was ten or 11 when, in the 1980s, she had visited Austin’s home because she knew his daughter. While alone in a room Austin came in and touched her over her clothes while brushing her hair.
The third victim was in her mid-teens when she was at the house in the early 1990s and went into a bedroom to get dressed after having a shower. Austin came in and sexually assaulted her.
The police began to investigate Austin’s activities in 2016 after he had offered to give an older teenager a driving lesson. When she was driving he rubbed his hand up and down her thigh, and also touched her breasts.
During the two trials Austin denied sexually assaulting any of the girls, claiming they were all lying.
Lee Egan, defending, said Austin, who was of previous good character apart from a drink-driving offence, suffered from Crohn’s disease, and had a stroke in 2014 and then a pseudoseizure while waiting for the verdict in the first trial.
He added that being jailed will lead to Austin losing the rented home he had lived in since 1976.
Judge Anthony Potter, who referred to Austin as “a menace to females”, told him: “I have to sentence you for your offending over a 40-year period which involved you sexually assaulting four different girls.
“When you were confronted with the allegations, you sought to suggest that this was a conspiracy by people including your ex-wife, who had divorced you over 20 years ago, to get you into trouble. It’s plain it was nothing of the sort.”