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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK

UK: Scotland

Man jailed for 'most brutal' child rape

The court heard graphic details of the sex attack

A child rapist has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for leaving a young girl with the worst injuries recorded in a sex attack by medical experts in Britain

BBC Scotland's Andrew Anderson reports from Aberdeen
Ronald Harris, 55, assaulted and raped the eight-year-old in Aberdeen 25 years ago.

The attack was described by Lord Dawson at the High Court in Edinburgh as "the most brutal, bestial and unnatural rape I have ever come across".

The girl was so badly injured, she required treatment at the Royal Aberdeen Sick Children's Hospital for internal bleeding.

Records studied

At the time, the incident was not referred to police or social workers. The case only came to light when the victim contacted police last year.

Advocate depute Peter Gray said that after the allegations were made by the rape victim in February last year, the records of her admission to hospital and treatment were studied by consultant paediatrician Jean Herbison.

[ image: Ronald Harris is led from court]
Ronald Harris is led from court
Dr Herbison, an international child abuse expert, said that in her professional opinion the injuries were the worst she had ever seen in a child rape victim, having dealt with more than 700 such cases in the UK.

Harris, a self-employed caterer, admitted raping the girl on 16 March, 1974, and repeatedly indecently assaulting her during the two years prior to that.

Lord Dawson told him it was only the fact he had admitted his offences and his lack of criminal record which saved him from the maximum sentence - life imprisonment.

The judge said: "I have given considerable and anxious consideration to this particular case. I have no doubt in my mind that the sexual abuse of young children is something that a civilised society cannot tolerate."

'No excuse'

Lord Dawson was told Harris had also been the victim of sexual abuse as a child, but stated: "I find really no excuse in the fact that you have been subjected to abuse."

He said he would have expected his childhood experience to have made Harris more vigilant in sparing other youngsters similar ordeals.

"I have used strong words but in this I cannot but reflect the revulsion that most right-thinking people must feel for this crime," he added.

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