A 55-year-old charity worker from Herefordshire has today been sentenced to 17 years and 4 months imprisonment for sexual offences which were committed over a 26 year period on eight young boys in the United Kingdom and in Kenya.
The victims in Kenya were able to give evidence from a hotel close to their hometown via video link. This was broadcast into the court room and they were able to be questioned and cross-examined.
A jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard how, following an investigation by West Mercia Police and the National Crime Agency, Simon Harris of Pudleston near Leominster was arrested and charged with 30 sexual offences and five offences relating to indecent images.
On 17 December 2014, Harris was convicted of eight sexual offences (three indecent assaults and five sexual assaults) relating to five Kenyan children in Gilgil, a small town in Kenya, where Harris was a charity volunteer co-ordinator. He was also convicted of four indecent images offences at trial.
Through his work in Kenya, Harris came into contact with homeless children. He would entice the victims through the promise of work or education to attend his home in Gilgil. Once there, he would provide the boys with alcohol and drugs, and then he would sexually abuse them.
On the first day of his trial, he had pleaded guilty to six sexual offences committed against three boys at a school in Devon in the late 1980s.
Anamarie Coomansingh, Senior District Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service’s Complex Casework Unit, said:
“Simon Harris is a dangerous predator of young boys who abused his position of trust and groomed vulnerable victims in the UK and in Kenya for his own sexual gratification.
“When he was no longer able to teach as a result of his abuse of young victims in Devon, he turned his attention to Kenya where he set up a charity to work with children. Many of these boys in Kenya were illiterate, homeless and extremely vulnerable. Aware of these facts, he callously took advantage of their circumstances and their surroundings to sexually abuse them.
“I would like to personally thank all of the victims and witnesses who gave evidence throughout this trial. It must have been a harrowing experience for them to relive the crimes which Harris committed on them, but without their evidence and support, we would not be here today.
“I would like to take this opportunity to also thank the enforcement agencies and charities which helped support the victims through the trial both here in the UK and in Kenya and the High Commission in Kenya.
“Our message is very clear - serious offenders like Harris cannot prey on vulnerable children abroad without facing justice.”