4:12pm Monday 21st November 2011
By Mark Chandler
A 76-YEAR-OLD pearly king has been accused of abusing six girls aged between four and 15 over a 24-year period.
Richard Clitheroe, of Sidcup Road, Eltham, denies 21 counts of indecent assault and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity between December 1971 and October 2005.
At the start of his Old Bailey trial on November 21, jurors heard Clitheroe, also known as Ricky, performed sex acts on young girls and got them to perform sex acts on him.
The court heard the abuse only came to light years later when one of his alleged victims began cutting herself and subsequently told her parents what had happened.
Police began investigating on October 22 2009. Eight days later, a neighbour of Clitheroe's heard a disturbance caused by a girl accusing the pensioner of abusing her when she was younger.
Prosecutor Nicholas Bleaney said: "She was very angry. She was throwing things at him, trying to punch him and the police were called."
During the confrontation she allegedly heard him say: "Alright, alright, I'm going to hand myself in. I'm going to the police station."
By the time officers arrived Clitheroe had gone. Mr Bleaney said: "It transpires that he climbed out of the bathroom window and was seen by police in the garden."
The court heard Clitheroe, who suffers from emphysema and coughed throughout the prosecution opening, had abused a number of girls at his home, at an office, in caravans and in cars.
One of the girls claimed she had been abused up to the age of 14 and he had told her many years ago that "they'd had a special relationship" since she was four.
Mr Bleaney said the defendant took "pretty much every available opportunity to interfere with her".
As she got older, the court heard, she became concerned that he would take her virginity rather than a boyfriend.
Mr Bleaney said: "She heard him say 'I'm going to break you in and prepare you.'"
Another girl remembers abuse from age eight. After one incident she claims he said "that she was a good girl and he'd buy her an ice cream".
Jurors heard he told another victim "it was their little secret."
The trial continues.
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