Today (8th November) a taxi driver in Carlisle has been sentenced to two years for sexually assaulting a 94-year-old resident in a retirement property, and fraud.
Richard O’Brien, 58, of Dunmail Dr, Carlisle, is a self-employed taxi driver. He pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault and fraud at an earlier hearing.
For years Richard O’Brien marketed his taxi services towards pensioners. He built up a client base from the most vulnerable members of the community; he also transported frail elderly people on behalf of a local charity.
The victim was introduced to him in 2001, when she was living alone, and he ran errands for her. When her care needs became such that she could no longer live independently she moved into a retirement property at Rosebery Road, Carlisle.
O’Brien frequented the property, handing out his business cards and offering his services to other residents. He stated during police interviews that he would ring the intercom of another resident to gain access, and would enter the retirement scheme unbeknown to staff on duty at the time.
The victim reported that almost every time O’Brien visited her at the home he would sexually assault her.
At the beginning of August 2012 a camera was placed within the lounge area of the victim’s flat in relation to another investigation. Within days of its installation Richard O’Brien was caught on camera sexually abusing his 94 year old victim.
It was also discovered that he had fraudulently withdrawn over £4,000 worth of pension payments after the death of his uncle.
DC Carolyn Willacy, from Cumbria Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, said:
“This kind and gentle lady has suffered regular degrading assaults over a long period of time. Due to frailty of body and mind she was unable to defend herself against his abuse.
“O’Brien pleaded not-guilty until the morning of trial, which caused further distress to those taking part in the trial. There is no excuse for his horrific crimes and the lasting impact they will have on the victim and her family.
“We take all reports of sexual abuse extremely seriously, and work hard to protect vulnerable people. It can be difficult to speak out against abuse, but it’s important that victims and their friends/family get in touch with the police so we can take action.
“If anyone has suffered abuse, or has any concerns, I would urge them to get in touch with Cumbria Police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
A Cumbria County Council spokesperson, said: “Agencies, including the county council, NHS organisations and the police, work together to safeguard vulnerable adults. The local authority’s safeguarding team worked closely with the police in this instance and we are very pleased that a successful prosecution has been secured.
“These appalling crimes against a frail and elderly lady were exposed as part of the Safeguarding Adults process and followed excellent multi-agency co-operation. This dangerous man has deliberately targeted the most vulnerable people in society causing untold harm and distress while showing no remorse for his actions.”
The family of the victim said:
“How has this left me feeling; Angry, sickened, saddened, vulnerable, ashamed, and broken. My mum has looked after me well all my life and when it was my turn to look after her, I feel I should of done better. I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. To me Richard O’Brien has committed one of the worst crimes possible and I hope he too has to live with the consequences of what he has done for a long time to come.”