Stamford

A paedophile who raped and sexually abused young girls for decades faces spending the rest of his life in prison.

William Clapham, 85, carried out his first offences back in 1957 and over seven decades carried out the systematic sexual abuse of girls as young as six-years-old.

Clapham committed offences against seven different girls. He was also convicted of showing pornography to a young boy.

One of his victims died before she was able to see him brought to justice.

Clapham jailed at Lincoln Crown Court on Thursday for a total of 15 years and two months and given an extended licence period of a further two years. He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

Clapham, 85, of Drift Avenue, Stamford, was found guilty by a jury of offences of rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, sexual activity with a child and causing a child to watch a sexual act following a three week trial.

Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight told him: “You have been convicted after trial of 20 offences against children committed between 1957 and 2013. It is accepted that you will likely die in prison.

“You have over 54 years sought out children to abuse. You have been a predatory paedophile for almost the whole of your adult life. Your offending has had a devastating impact.”

Clapham, who earlier in his life ran a taxi and coach business in Stamford, claimed to the jury he had been framed and his victims were lying.

But the jury found him guilty of a total of 20 charges.

The court was told that back in 1963 Clapham sought electric shock treatment after telling his GP that he had a sexual interest in young children but failed to mention he had already acted on his urges and he then continued to abuse more children over the years.

Jeremy Janes, prosecuting, said the lives of the victims have been ruined by Clapham.

One of the victims, in an impact statement, said: “He makes my skin crawl. He frightens me to death.”

Others spoke of having sleepless nights and having their lives devastated as a result of what Clapham did to them.

Adam Norris, in mitigation, described Clapham as frail and said he has only recently been discharged from hospital.

He told the court: “The very high likelihood is that this will be a sentence that is for the rest of his life. I ask that the sentence is tempered with some humanity.”

Lincolnshire Police’s Investigating Officer DC Helen Morris, of the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit, said: “Clapham has inflicted truly devastating suffering and pain on so many innocent lives.

“We would like to pay tribute to the incredible bravery of the victims, whose assistance has helped to bring Clapham to justice today.

“The verdict and sentence will never make up for what he has done, but we hope that this at least brings some comfort and closure to those affected.”

Burghley House in Stamford is believed to be one of the settings for Warner Bros new superhero film The Flash, starring Ben Affleck as Batman.

Film crews from Warner Bros were spotted at Burghley House in April ahead of a new blockbuster from the DC Comics universe.

Spectators initially believed filming to be for The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson and Colin Farrell, but those close to the scene claim that it is in fact for The Flash with Ben Affleck and Ezra Miller.

The film will still feature the Batman character, and Burghley House could be the set for Wayne Manor, the home of Batman, in the film which screens next year.

A Warner Bros set van was spotted at Burghley House. | Photo: Stephen Daniels

The sixteenth-century house in Lincolnshire has been used for various film and television sets in recent times, including for Netflix’s royal drama The Crown.

Filming for The Flash began in 2019, taking place in Toronto, Canada and Utah in America so far according to the film’s IMDB page.

The Flash is being directed by Andy Muschietti, famous for his directing role in the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s It.

A mother of three drove at 90mph as she attempted to evade pursuing police officers before finally being stopped by a stinger device, Lincoln Crown Court was told on Tuesday.

Lauren Craig-Tyler drove through red traffic lights, went through a no vehicle area, forced other drivers to take evasive action and ignored requests from police officers to stop during a journey, which started in the centre of Boston and ended 10 miles away in Quadring.

The court was told that the defendant had initially set off from her home near Stamford earlier in the day as she was fleeing from domestic abuse.

Thomas Welshman, prosecuting, said Craig-Tyler first attracted attention when a police check flagged up that she was driving an uninsured car in Bridge Street, Boston.

Craig-Tyler stopped at a red light at a junction with John Adams Way and an officer in a following police car got out and knocked on her window to attract her attention.

Instead Craig-Tyler drove away and after going through a “no vehicle” zone in Wide Bargate she ended up on South Street before going through a red light to enter John Adams Way.

Mr Welshman said she was driving at 40mph in a 30 limit and went through another red light to Boston Docks where she turned round and headed back to John Adams Way.

The police pursuit continued on to Spalding Road with Craig-Tyler driving at 90 mph on the A16 towards Spalding. At Sutterton roundabout her driving caused an articulated lorry to brake to avoid a collision.

The pursuit continued on the A17 and A52 before police activated a stinger device at Quadring. Craig-Tyler drove off the main road onto a track where she continued for 200 metres before stopping. She got out of her car and was arrested nearby.

Mr Welshman said: “It was a prolonged piece of bad driving with deliberate disregard for the safety of others.”

When Craig-Tyler was interviewed she admitted driving without insurance and failing to stop. She told officers she was fleeing from domestic abuse and was “not in a good place”.

Craig-Tyler, 34, of Stamford Road, Pilsgate, near Stamford, admitted charges of dangerous driving, having no insurance, failing to stop when required and possession of a small amount of cannabis as a result of the incident on November 29 last year.

Neil Sands, in mitigation, said that Craig-Tyler had no previous convictions and since the incident has returned to being a law-abiding person.

“She drove to escape domestic abuse. These are the actions of a panicked and worried woman. She couldn’t go home because of what she was trying to escape from.”

Craig-Tyler was given a nine month jail sentence suspended for 18 months with a 25 day rehabilitation activity requirement. She was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to pass an extended retest before she can legally drive again.

Recorder Paul Mann QC said the circumstances of the case meant he could suspend the prison sentence.

He told her “You only took to the road to get away from domestic violence. You panicked. In all the circumstances I’m willing to suspend the sentence.”

+ More stories