Beccles pensioner sees his sentence for the rape of a young boy cut

The former owner of an archery club in Worlingham who was jailed for raping and molesting a young boy has had his 18 year prison sentence reduced by a third.

Frail pensioner Keith Willis, formerly of Gresham Road, Beccles, had his sentence cut on Tuesday after three senior judges at London's Court of Appeal heard of his catalogue of illnesses.

Willis, 78, was given an 18 year sentence at Ipswich Crown Court in October after being convicted of rape and 10 other serious sexual offences with a child, but this has now been cut to 12 years, meaning that he could be released on licence after serving six.

At the time of the case Willis was already serving a seven-year term for sex attacks on young girls.

Mr Justice Beatson, sitting with Lord Justice Hughes and Mr Justice Field, said it was only because of Willis' age and poor health that the reduction in sentence was being granted.

He told the court that the boy only accused Willis, who ran an archery club in Worlingham with his wife, after he heard of the abuse allegations made by the girls.

He said Willis had begun by molesting him, but the abuse had escalated to include rape, all committed before he had even reached the age of 13.

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His female victims gave varying accounts sexual abuse, committed many years apart, with some dating back to the 1970s.

At his trial last year, Willis claimed that the boy had been put up to making allegations by one of the girls involved in his earlier trial.

On Tuesday, he tried to overturn the convictions at the Court of Appeal, but was told that there was nothing wrong with the way that the trial was conducted.

However, the judge said his catalogue of health complaints - including angina, breathing problems, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and diabetes - should mitigate the sentence.

'Sentencing a very old man with serious health problems for offences committed many years ago is undoubtedly a difficult exercise,' the judge said.

'The harm done is not reduced because of the passage of time, but the effect of prison on the elderly or infirm is more severe than it is on those who are younger and fitter.

'Solely because of the age and very poor health of the defendant, we consider that some further reduction of sentence is appropriate.

'In the present case, taking into account the very poor prognosis in the medical report, we consider that a sentence of 12 years' imprisonment is appropriate.'

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