A British pensioner who raped and sexually abused vulnerable children in Kenya after exploiting his friendship with their families, has been jailed for more than 18 years.
Leeds Crown Court heard how the 72-year-old Keith Morris, known as ‘Mozzy’, deliberately chose the two weakest girls in a remote African village while he was on holiday between 2016 and 2017 and raped one ‘on more than 20 occasions’.
Over the course of 20 years, he had befriended the girls’ families, giving them money and gifts on a number of occasions and even using his granddaughter to get close to the girls by encouraging her to play with them.
Morris, a locksmith from Hull, also financially sponsored several of the families and paid for their children’s education. He had also earned the respect of the elders by providing household goods and clothing, helping to build houses, as well as paying for medical treatment and education.
Enquiries by the NCA and Kenyan National Police identified that in the many years Morris had been visiting the rural village in Kilifi County, Kenya, he frequently took local children away for trips, where he would buy them gifts and stay with them in hotel rooms.
Judge Mairs said: “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 court heard how one girl had told police in a statement: “He had sex with me and broke my virginity. It was really painful and I cried.”
Despite denying 12 charges including rape and sexual assault, Morris 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.
An investigation into Morris’ activities in Kenya was launched after a British hotel guest raised concerns about his behaviour towards one of the young girls to one of his friends, who was a member of the police.
After an ‘international investigation’ was launched, Morris was stopped in February 2017 as he returned to the UK at Humberside airport.
A search of his home revealed 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’.
In exchange for help in proving his innocence, Morris had also transferred money to associates in Kenya which led to him being charged with perverting the course of justice.
In a heartbreaking testimony, one of the victims told police she believed her family ‘would starve’ if Morris was prosecuted.
Prosecutor Rupert Doswell told the court: “While he had always transferred money [to Kenya], payments increased exponentially [after his arrest].”
Defending Morris, Caroline Wigan told the court he had no previous convictions and despite the ruling did not accept the jury’s decision. In mitigation, she added that he had already suffered intimidation in prison and for a man of his age, custody would be very difficult.
Sentencing Morris, Judge Mairs said he had used his ‘veneer of respectability’ to abuse the girls for his ‘own sexual pleasure’.
“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. You chose the weakest of the girls and you preyed upon them. You preyed upon the most vulnerable to the most vulnerable.
“You used your own granddaughter to achieve access with the girls.” – Judge Mairs
Sentencing Morris to 18 years and 6 months imprisonment, the judge said Morris was “clearly in a position of trust” which he abused, adding that he had reached a global figure to represent the global offending. He was also made subject to an indefinite sexual har, prevention order.
The judge commended the officers involved in the ‘international investigation’ who had worked to bring Morris to justice.