18th Sep, 2019

Jail for rapist, 76, who repeatedly forced his way into schoolgirl's Coventry home

Editorial Correspondent 22nd Aug, 2019 Updated: 22nd Aug, 2019

JUSTICE has finally caught up with a man who raped a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s after forcing his way into her home as she came home from school.

Skip hire boss John Doherty, who lived in Coventry at the time, pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of raping the under-age girl.

But Doherty (76) now of Malin Head, Ballygorman, Ireland, was jailed for 19 years after the jury took less than two hours to find him guilty of all three charges by unanimous verdicts.

Prosecutor Jennifer Josephs said the offences took place in the 1970s when Doherty, who knew the girl’s family, was in his 20s and she was about 14.

Knowing she would be alone after getting back from school while her parents were still at work, Doherty turned up at her Coventry home, confident she would let him in.

But on more than one occasion, once inside he pushed her to the floor, pulled down her underwear and raped her.

Afterwards he warned her that if she told anyone what he had done, no-one would believe her when he denied it.

When she then tried to stop him getting in, looking out for him as she got home and locking the door, he took to parking his van away from her house.

Doherty then hid, and as she looked round and tried to get inside he jumped out as she was putting the key in the door, pushed her inside, before again pushing her to the floor and raping her.

When the girl eventually revealed what had happened, as he had warned her, he denied the matters and the police did not become involved at that time.

And he denied them again when she first made a formal complaint in the 1990s.

After the jury had returned its verdicts, Miss Josephs read out a statement in which Doherty’s victim said he had destroyed her childhood, and she had been haunted by what he did throughout her life.

Judge Sarah Buckingham observed: “This is a campaign of rape. It is repeated rape over a period of months. He went at times he knew she would be alone.

“He hid and parked his van somewhere where she didn’t see it – and he pounced, not once, but on a regular basis.”

Rebecca Wade, defending, said: “The defendant accepts and understands that Your Honour will sentence him on the basis of the jury’s findings.

“He is 76 years of age. Since these offences he has not committed another criminal offence.”

She said Doherty had provided employment for people through his Coventry skip business, and referred the judge to a number of references which had been handed in.

“In recent times he has been through a very traumatic time, losing his son, which has affected him very hard indeed.”

Miss Wade added that a further hardship for him would be that ‘his residence is in Ireland, and his incarceration is likely to be in this country.’

Jailing Doherty, and ordering him to register as a sex offender for life, Judge Buckingham told him: “You were an adult. You were well-aware she would be home alone after school.

“It was your arrogance and confidence in your ability to keep this secret that led you to take these risks.

“She was a virgin at the time you began to rape her, and she was in her own home. It has caused her extreme psychological harm.

“You have lived all your life commanding the respect of your family, friends and colleagues – but it was all a lie. They knew nothing of the truth.”

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