Former police officer jailed for ‘horrendous and barbaric’ sex offences

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A former Sussex Police officer has been sentenced to two and half years in prison for ‘horrendous and barbaric’ historic sex offences against a minor.

Thomas John Rees, 77, from Wick, appeared at Hove Crown Court on Monday, charged with four counts of indecent assault and one of assault causing actual bodily harm of a minor.

A police spokesman said the offences were committed against a girl at Haywards Heath.

Timothy Raggatt, defending, said the sentence was for two incidents more than 40 years ago.

Mr Raggatt said it was unfair for the court to take into consideration that Mr Rees served as a police officer.

He said: “It was wrong in principle to take that into account, it just happens that that was his job, it plays no part in the sentencing other than his character. It’s an aggravating feature in the case.”

Judge Michael Lawson said it may be an explanation as to why the victim found it difficult to report the incidents at the time.

Mr Raggatt described Rees as a man of ‘exemplary character’. Rees provided Judge Lawson with clippings to demonstrate his service to the community as a police officer over a 30-year period.

Mr Raggatt said: “This is a man of 77 who has built up an enormous credit and who has led an unblemished life for the last 40 years.

“He isn’t the slightest risk to anyone for any reason whatsoever.

“There is no public interest to be served by imprisoning a man of his age. It does not demand a custodial sentence.”

However, Judge Lawson referred to Rees’ crimes as ‘horrendous and barbaric’.

He said: “In one of the cuttings, you send a message to all these villains and refer to there being no acceptable level of crime.”

In reference to the historic nature of the crimes, Judge Lawson added: “There’s no delay that excuses or expunges offences.

“The essence of these offences are exactly the same then as it is now.”

Judge Lawson said he had taken into account Rees’ exemplary character, but added a custodial sentence was necessary.

Rees received a total sentence of two and a half years.