72-year-old man befriended poor families so he could rape their children while posing as a 'father figure'
Keith Morris, 72, was found guilty of sex offences against young girls he met while on holiday in Mombasa between January 2016 and February 2017
A British paedophile who befriended poor families in Kenya so he could rape and sexually abuse their children has been jailed for over 18 years.
Keith Morris, 72, known by his victims as "Mozzy", carried out the crimes against two young girls while on holiday in a remote village in the African country between 2016 and 2017.
He befriended the young victims' families over the course of 20 years, giving them money and gifts on a number of occasions, the court heard. He also also financially sponsored several of the families and paid for their children's education.
Morris "integrated" himself within the village in the Kilifi county of Kenya and earned the respect of the elders through his help building houses, funding education and facilitating travel to a local clinic for medical attention.
Judge Mairs told the court: "You were a benefactor to the residents, especially the children. There is no doubt that you used your elevated and financially powerful position to gain access to the girls."
The abuse took place during a period between January 2016 and February 2017, the court was told. Morris denied 12 charges including rape and sexual assault during a trial at Leeds Crown Court.
However, he was convicted of four counts of rape, four counts of assault by penetration, two counts of sexual assault and two counts of perverting the course of justice by the jury on May 22. Morris, a retired locksmith from Hull, East Yorks., travelled to Kenya on holiday on multiple occasions with his wife and later his granddaughter, the court was told.
He would take groups of children out of the village for day trips and would buy them sweets, make-up, meals out and often invited them to stay in his hotel rooms, the court heard.
Prosecutor Rupert Doswell said it was during these trips Morris abused the children - who were aged just 13 and 14 when they gave their statements to police — between 2016 and 2017.
One of the victims, who Morris referred to as "sweetheart" or "darling", was raped on "more than 20 occasions", the court was told. The prosecutor said Morris had "integrated" himself within the village and had "the respect of the elders". He added: "It was that reliance that the defendant exploited to facilitate his offending."
Morris had made an application to the authorities for guardianship of one of the two victims, which was refused, the court heard. However, he later used a draft of the document when challenged by staff of hotels in which he took the children, the court was told.
An investigation was launched after a British hotel guest raised concerns about Morris' behaviour towards one of the young girls to one of his friends — who was a member of the police.
An "international investigation" was launched and Morris was stopped in February 2017 as he returned to the UK at Humberside airport. During a search of his home, officers found a dictaphone containing audio recordings of phone conversations in which he had asked his victims "to sign retraction statements stating the sexual abuse had not occurred".
He also transferred money to associates in Kenya in exchange for help to prove his innocence, the court heard, which led to him being charged with perverting the course of justice. One of the victims told police she believed her family "would starve" if Morris was prosecuted.
Mr Doswell told the court: "While he had always transferred money [to Kenya], payments increased exponentially [after his arrest]".
In mitigation, Caroline Wigan told the court Morris had already suffered intimidation in prison and custody would be very difficult for his age. Wigan told the court he had no previous convictions and does not accept the jury's decision.
Sentencing Morris, Judge Mairs said he had used his "veneer of respectability" to abuse the girls for his "own sexual pleasure".
He said: "The sex offences occurred in Kenya. You stayed at a number of tourist hotels [near the village]. The evidence in the trial showed the abject poverty of its residents. Life is brutal, hard and often short. You befriended the village. For many years you did good work. There is no doubt you used your elevated position to gain access to the young girls."
"You groomed them."
The judge told how one of the victims had a cleft lip and speech impediment. He added: "You chose the weakest of the girls and you preyed upon them. You preyed upon the most vulnerable to the most vulnerable."
The judge told the court Morris had even taken his own granddaughter on trips to Kenya to entice the girls to play with her. He told Morris: "You used your own granddaughter to achieve access with the girls."
The judge told the court one girl's virginity had been taken by Morris and she told police in a statement: "He had sex with me and broke my virginity. "It was really painful and I cried."
Sentencing Morris to 18 years and 6 months imprisonment, the judge said: "You were clearly in a position of trust and you abused that. I have reached a global figure to represent the global offending."
Morris was made subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order. He sat motionless in the dock dressed in a suit throughout the proceedings. Judge Mairs commended the officers in the case who assisted the "international investigation".
Author: Daniel Sheridan
© South West News Service