Locksmith gave money to Kenyan families then sexually abused young girls in 'abject poverty' - Leeds Crown Court

Leeds Crown Court
Leeds Crown Court

A locksmith who financially supported Kenyan families in "abject poverty" in order to access and sexually abuse children who were "the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable" has been jailed.

Keith Morris used his elevated status among villagers in Kilifi County to groom young girls by taking them on day trips, buying them meals out and letting them stay in hotel rooms with him.

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A court heard how the 72-year-old repeatedly visited Kenya with family members over a period of around 20 years, attaining the status of a "patriarchal figure" among the people of a small village by paying for the medical treatment and education of some locals.

Prosecutors told how Morris would take girls away with him to hotels and, when challenged by staff, produced interim guardianship orders he had attempted to attain for the children.

Whilst in the hotel rooms, the father-of-three would sexually abuse his two underage victims, one of whom had recently lost her father and was described as the "weakest of the girls in the village" by a judge.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the sexual abuse only stopped when Morris was arrested in February 2017 after a fellow British tourist grew suspicious of his demeanour around the children.

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Even after the arrest, he attempted to transfer money to associates in Kenya in a bid to convince them to help clear his name, and contacted the girls to ask them drop claims against him.

One of the girls was supposedly told he would help fund her school if she lied to police, with the youngster later telling officers she feared she would starve without Morris' support.

Following a trial at Leeds Crown Court, he was convicted of four counts of rape, four counts of assault by penetration, two charges of sexual assault and two counts of perverting the course of justice.

The offences spanned between January 2016 and February 2017, and related to two victims who were aged between 13 and 14 when they gave statements against their abuser.

Handing him an 18-and-half-year prison sentence on Wednesday, His Honour Judge Mairs told Morris: "You were a benefactor to the residents of this village, especially the children.

"There is no doubt that you used your elevated and financially powerful position to access the girls.

"You preyed upon the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable.

"The evidence showed the abject poverty of the inhabitants of the village. You chose the weakest of the girls in the village and preyed upon them."

The judge also claimed that Morris' attaining of the interim guardianship orders "demonstrates the lengths you were willing to go to add a cloak of respectability to your actions".

Prosecutor Rupert Doswell told how the defendant had "manipulated the affections" of the girls in order to carry out the abuse against them.

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In mitigation, Caroline Wigan claimed that her client "does not accept the verdicts of the jury" and reminded the judge of the "years of assistance that he has given to this village, both physically and financially".

Morris, of New Bridge Road, Hull, was also given a sexual harm prevention order and was banned from having any unsupervised contact with underage girls.