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South Cumbria pensioner convicted of historical sexual abuse

Carlisle Crown Court

A PENSIONER has heard he could receive a prison sentence after being convicted of the historic sexual abuse of a teenage girl while he was in charge of a South Cumbria school.

Roger Melbreck Whitehouse, 79, went on trial at Carlisle Crown Court after denying 10 charges, each alleging he indecently assaulted a female pupil aged in her mid-teens during the 1980s.

Opening the case, prosecutor Andrew Ford told jurors of the woman’s complaints that Whitehouse had repeatedly sexually abused her: “She says this happened many times.”

But Whitehouse responded from the witness box: “There was never any physical contact. There was never any sexual contact.”

After hearing all evidence in the case, a jury which deliberated for more than six hours acquitted Whitehouse on six charges – five of these on the direction of the trial judge. However, Whitehouse was convicted on four indecent assault charges – one unanimously, and three on a majority verdict.

Judge Nicholas Barker adjourned the case for the preparation of a probation service pre-sentence report and up-to-date medical information. Whitehouse, of Sea View, Haverigg, was granted bail and is due to be sentenced at the crown court at a hearing on October 18, for which an impact statement from the victim will be sought.

“You should understand these are serious matters,” Judge Barker told Whitehouse, who must now sign the sex offender’s register. “You should understand that this court will have in its mind a custodial sentence, even despite your age.

“You should undertake any preparations you need to do to prepare yourself for a custodial sentence between now and 18th October.”

Earlier this year, Whitehouse received a suspended jail term at Carlisle Crown Court. This followed his conviction after a previous trial of a child cruelty crime committed against one boy while he was working at a different school – Witherslack Hall, Grange-over-Sands – during the 1970s.

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