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Former sailor jailed for 19 years in sex abuse case

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 28, 2012

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court

An ex-member of the Royal Navy has been sentenced to 19 years in prison following a string of historic sexual offences against young girls.

Matthew Rawe's various victims were below the age of consent during his two-decade period of offences.

Rawe, now 55, denied any responsibility, but was convicted by a jury of 13 counts of indecent assault and seven counts of attempted rape, at Exeter Crown Court in June.

Sentencing him, Judge Phillip Wassall said: "You pose a real and continuing risk, even at your age, of committing offences against children."

Paedophile Rawe's abuse began in the early 1980s while he was living in the Padstow area of North Cornwall.

He moved to Newton Abbot in Devon in the early 1990s after divorcing his wife.

While living there he abused a teenage girl after befriending her at a care home in the area where the victim's relative worked.

Richard Crabb, for the prosecution, said Rawe would tell his victims it was "our little secret" in an effort to keep the police from finding out about his offending.

Defending, Rupert Taylor said Rawe maintained his innocence following his conviction.

He said: "There's a sadness in these sorts of cases. Whatever happens, there are absolutely no winners."

Mr Taylor added that a pre-sentence report into Rawe, of Orchard Close in Chudleigh Knighton, Newton Abbot, said that the former domestic appliance engineer had "viewed himself as a victim".

The court heard Rawe was previously in the Royal Navy and had suffered from depression at various points in his life.

Mr Taylor said Rawe's latest wife was standing by him, despite his conviction and them losing their home.

The judge said he gave Rawe "absolutely no credit" due to his denial, and said the impact of his offending on the victims and their family members had been huge.

Rawe, who pulled faces from the dock during the hearing on Friday, collapsed to his chair with his head in his hands when the judge explained the length of the sentence.

He was also made the subject of a life-long Sexual Offences Prevention Order, banning him from speaking to children.

After the case, Det Sgt Neil Ralph of Devon and Cornwall Police said he hoped the conviction would give other sexual abuse victims the confidence to report offences.

He said: "Hopefully this case shows that Devon and Cornwall Police will investigate criminal behaviour no matter how old the crimes are, and that they are taken very seriously in a court of law.

"We hope sexual abuse victims are comforted by the length of sentence handed to this man, and find the confidence to come forward if they have been abused."

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