A Cumbrian farmer who repeatedly raped one schoolgirl and molested another after grooming both with gifts of sweets and cigarettes has been handed a 20-year jail term for the historic crimes.
The female raped by Raymond Harrison several decades ago told police as she made disclosures as an adult many years later of a threat he gave her, adding: “He said nobody was to know because it had to be our secret.”
Harrison, now aged 69, denied 12 charges: eight involving the repeated rape, indecent assaults and acts of indecency with one girl; and four relating to indecent assaults on the second girl.
But after a trial at Carlisle Crown Court, he was convicted on all counts.
Opening the case against him, prosecutor Kim Whittlestone told jurors Harrison groomed the girls. “They liked him. They trusted him. He would buy them sweets and the odd cheeky cigarette,” she said, adding: “The prosecution case is quite simple: that he did this so he could, when he was alone with them, sexually touch them and they wouldn’t complain.”
As Harrison, who lives off Penrith Road, Keswick, was sentenced today, Miss Whittlestone said of the two women, both aged under 13 when the abuse occurred, independently: “The impact of that offending on the victims is still very much present.”
Each had given a moving statement about the devastating effect of his crimes.
The woman raped by Harrison branded him a “pathetic sick creature”. “He has robbed me of my childhood and ruined my adult life in so many ways,” she said. “He has made me feel guilty for his actions while he continued to live his twisted and privileged double life.” She added: “I am serving a continuous life sentence.”
The second woman recounted a “harrowing” trial, stating: “Being the victim of childhood abuse creates an injury that can‘t be mended or forgotten about. In addition, it creates unaccountable guilt and feeling of deep shame.”
Harrison — aged in his late twenties and early thirties when the offending occurred, and described as a hard-working man with no other convictions — insisted while giving evidence during his trial there was “absolutely nothing at all” in the girls’ disclosures. He maintains his denials.
But the sentencing judge, Recorder Ciaran Rankin, told him: “It is quite clear on the evidence you groomed each of these girls independently and went on to sexually assault them in the way the jury determined that you did.”
Harrison must sign the sex offenders’ register for life, and follow the strict terms of a sexual harm prevention order.
*The court heard today an appeal against Harrison’s conviction is pending.