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Briton gets 17 years for defiling Kenyan boys

By Paul Wafula | February 28th 2015

A British charity worker who lured street children in Gilgil with food and alcohol before defiling at least eight boys, has been jailed in the UK.

Simon Harris, 55, a former public school teacher, was found guilty of five sexual assaults and three indecent assaults.

One of his five victims was as young as nine. The paedophile was sentenced to 17 years and four months by the Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday.

His sentencing was delayed for two days after a power blackout hit the court room on Tuesday afternoon.

Harris sat in the dock wearing a suit and tie and he never once looked up as the sentences were read out to him by Judge Philip Parker. Judge Parker said Harris must serve at least half of that sentence before being considered for parole. And yesterday, The Standard on Saturday visited the Harris home in Gilgil where the atrocities were committed.

The deserted home, about 20Km from Gilgil, is known as the “Green House”, and still has a caretaker, John Gichenga. Mr Gichenga says he has worked for Harris for over a decade and described his employer as a ‘good man’ who paid his salary promptly.

“He used to come with many visitors around and those were his visitors and it wasn’t in my place to interfere. Some members of his family used to visit but they stopped and I have not seen them here for a long time,” he says.

He has not seen his employer since he was arrested in the UK. The white Land Rover remains chained and locked in a car park adjacent to the house. The home, is still well taken care of, flowers remain trimmed, with some sheep roaming around.

The man who was convicted in December for preying on vulnerable boys was also found with indecent images of children he had sexually assaulted. Harris, a registered sex offender in the UK described by police as a prolific and calculating sexual predator, would lure the boys to his lavish home with offerings of food, money and the promise of a decent education.

During his eight-week trial, the prosecution said 28 child victims from Kenya had alleged sexual assault.

It was said Harris threatened to kill them if they told anyone what he had done to them. Despite being banned in the UK from working with children for life, Kenyan authorities allowed him to operate freely, running an educational charity known as VAE between 2001 and 2013. VAE placed young Britons to teach Kenyan school children before they joined colleges or universities.

The court was told how the paedophile would beat some with sticks, ply them with alcohol and drugs and even urinate in their mouths. The paedophile also pleaded guilty to indecent assaults committed against three other male pupils between 1986 and 1989 when he taught at a school in Devon in the UK.

He had also served a 15-month jail term after being convicted in 2009 of possessing indecent images of children.

The judge ruled that Harris designed his life to be close to boys. “It suited you to be in education. It gave you kudos and it also provided a source of boys.”

The judge added: “It is abundantly clear you have an unlawful sexual interest in young boys.”

One of the Kenyan boys who told police he had been raped when he was 15, died after giving evidence.

The ruling is a landmark case being the first time a Briton has been convicted for sex offences carried out in Africa and Harris is only the third offender prosecuted for sex crimes committed abroad.

Kenya has had a long relationship with the UK, having been her colonial master. Britain also has thousands of soldiers training in Kenya every year in a military training cooperation with Kenya worth Sh8.1 billion (£58 million) a year.

Most of the billions flow into Nanyuki town where a new breed of fatherless kids of a Kenya-British origin locally referred to as ‘pointees’ is growing.

The UK court heard that there could be more victims in Kenya, as Harris was left to prey on the kids for more than a decade.

Concerns about Harris were first raised with UK law enforcement in March 2013, and officers from the country’s West Mercia Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) began an investigation. The team later travelled to Kenya, where Harris lived, to gather evidence and interview victims.

Police then raided his house in Gilgil and found evidence on his computer of how Harris had doctored Kenyan documents to prove that Kenyan authorities had cleared him that he was no longer a danger to allow him get his passport, confiscated by British authorities, back.

The sentence now shames Kenyan authorities who are struggling to bring to book foreign nationals abusing children in the country.

Due to the rising cases of its citizens abusing children in foreign countries, UK introduced an International Child Protection Certificate that vets its citizens working in orphanages, schools and charitable organisations in 73 countries.

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