A retired Accrington police sergeant jailed for ‘appalling’ sex crimes against children has failed in a legal bid to clear his name.
Jeffrey Lake, 82, was accused of a string of crimes against two children, committed many years ago, mostly when he was a policeman.
Lake served in Accrington and Liverpool, but had emigrated to Australia by the time his offences came to light in 2009. He denied any wrongdoing, but was convicted at Preston Crown Court in October 2013 of a catalogue of crimes, including child rape.
This week his lawyers took his case to the Court of Appeal, where they claimed his convictions should be overturned. Insufficient legal instructions by the trial judge to the jury meant the convictions were ‘unsafe’, they said.
But Lord Justice Davis rejected the appeal and condemned Lake to serve his 18-year sentence.
The London court heard Lake had been accused of horrific offending against the two children more than 50 years ago.
However, allegations to police were not made until 2009, by which time his defence was harmed by the ‘passage of time’. Lake could not remember some specific incidents and faced ‘potential prejudice’, because he could no longer put his hands on evidence, it was argued.
The crown court judge had not given the jury a specific direction on how to consider the effect of the long delay in the allegations being made, lawyers said.
Rejecting the appeal, Lord Justice Davis said the trial judge had reminded the jury that Lake said he could not remember some incidents.
He had said ‘more than enough’ to the jury to ensure that they took that into account. And Lake had failed to put forward any concrete suggestions of specific evidence he could no longer obtain.
Lord Justice Davis said: “Looking at matters overall, we can accept that perhaps a fuller direction on delay may have been desirable.
“But we are not persuaded that any further instruction than the judge gave was positively necessary.
“Ultimately the issue for the jury was whether or not the jury believed the complainants or Jeffrey Lake.
“The jury, having heard all the evidence, believed them to the extent that they were sure of his guilt. It seems plain that this appellant himself still strongly disputes the correctness of those verdicts.
“He is entitled to his view, but in the view of this court, what matters is the view of the jury.”