Dunmow pensioner receives seven-year prison sentence for 50-year-old sexual offences

Keith Thurley

Keith Thurley - Credit: Archant

A Dunmow pensioner who carried out “repeated and systematic” sexual abuse on a young girl and boy over a five year period more than 50 years ago has been jailed for seven years by Chelmsford Crown Court.

Keith Thurley, 71, of Ash Grove, Dunmow, who lived at Great Hallingbury, was found guilty of 17 offences partly carried out in the woods and fields near his home.

Thurley was described as in “poor health and an old man” and was placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Judge Patricia Lynch QC said: “Although these are very old offences and I am sentencing an old man for offences 50 years ago, you’ve had 50 years to lead an industrious life of good character. You repeatedly and systematically abused these children.”

He was found guilty of indecent assault on the girl involving oral sex and touching her private parts and of 11 offences on the boy of indecent assault and indecency with a child, all between 1961 and 1966.

Gareth Hughes, defending, said Thurley “still vehemently denies committing the offences.”

He said: “He’s been in poor health for some considerable time and there was some immaturity by him at the time.

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“He’s been out of trouble for over 50 years and going to prison is going to have an effect on him.”

Prosecutor Chris Paxton told the jury of six men and six women during the hearing at which Thurley was convicted last month: “Neither victim told anyone until a couple of years ago when she approached the police. Thurley co-operated during the investigation, attended for interview and denied all the allegations made by them saying they didn’t happen.”